Get ready to read! bookIn this unfortunate educational age, in which the federal No Child Left Behind Law holds sway over our schools, we’ve seen a big push for young children to read at the age of 5 or even earlier. That first big standardized reading test that comes in the third grade scares every elementary principal nationwide, and the message goes down the line to the earlier grades and even the preschools: start drilling those kids in the two important testing subjects – math and reading.

A new study from the Center on Education Policy reports that 44 percent of 350 school districts surveyed admit reducing the time they spend on subjects and activities outside of elementary math and reading (i.e., things such as art, music, and even social studies). Anecdotal information from many teachers in many districts implies that an even greater number of schools are teaching specifically to the statewide test and sacrificing drawing, singing, and everything else that’s not numbers or printed language. This means that public libraries should take the opportunity to step up and present programs that share things like songs, chants, and storytelling with kids.

Redleaf, a publisher specializing in works about the education of young children, has a series of Guides for Parents that are designed to help parents of young children understand best practices for their education. I want to share a quote from Get Ready to Read! by Sally Moomaw, Brenda Hieronymus, and Yvonne Pearson:

Testing has become a pronounced part of the educational environment, and some elementary schools and even preschools teach lessons specifically to help children pass a test. This generally unhelpful practice is especially so in preschool. Preschools or child care centers may drill children over and over again in phonemes – the discrete sounds that make up a word. They may emphasize learning one letter per week, one at a time, isolated from a letter’s meaning within a word or situation. They may use worksheets, such as tracing letters, to teach writing. But, because their brains aren’t ready to process information on this level, this kind of teaching is generally a waste of time for preschool children.

I think we need more books like this one, and I recommend it for any library’s collection of books for parents.

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