Is generational poverty a problem because poor children lack equal educational opportunities? Should more be done to develop reading as a habit and ensure an ample supply of children's books in poor communities?
In my opinion, no. I volunteered at Head Start when I was a teen in the girl scouts, and I observed perfectly healthy, happy children who would not sit still to be read to, because it was so much more fun to climb on the monkey bars.
Meanwhile, at home, I had a kid brother who was reading at age three. Her learned it on his own, and he did it by sitting still a lot and focusing. But his physical coordination was below average.
I think different people come with different predilections towards reading or not reading. Parents don't just force books on children, and it is not the absence of books that prevents some youngsters from being exposed to literacy early. Writing is all around us. It's the inclination of the child to try to analyze the signs that determines how soon literacy will come.
Right now, when there is an epidemic of hyperlexia, I would not worry about those children whose social skills are fine but who don't have a habit of reading books. They will do just fine.
Every child needs books available to them, but in poverty-riddled communities, children sometimes begin school without this essential preschool nourishment. United Way's free book mailings are awesome, but parents may need to be educated to find programs like these.
If a parent loves to read books to their children, there are greater chances that their children will become more passionate as well. On the other hand, if a child is belittled by parent, teacher, or students for his lack of reading skills or if reading becomes a means of punishment to him/her, he/she may learn to hate reading.
I believe nature plays a crucial role as well, and I have to accept the fact that some children will never love reading. (There are many other gifts they can thrive in.) However, I'm an advocate for taking every opportunity to nurture it. :-)
There are public libraries in every town. There are storybook hours where librarians and volunteers read aloud. All of this is free. Parents that read usually have children that read, but the availability of books is not really a factor in this day and age.
Sesame Street and Between the Lions are also broadcast into most homes, especially the most impoverished. And just to be objective about it, the amount of money people have does not determine how much reading they do, on their own or to their children. Their own inclinations, and those of the children, have a lot more to do with it.
The same parent may read more to some children than to others, because how much being read to a child can tolerate varies from child to child. I think this factor is seldom discussed, but it's important.
Yes and yes. Pediatricians' practices are sending new books home with patients and their parents or guardians and tutoring programs are being organized in low income neighborhoods. It is especially important that reading opportunities be provided during the summer months so children don't lose ground from the level of reading ability they have achieved during the school year just ended.
Yes, literacy (or the lack thereof) definitely is correlated with poverty levels. MUCH more needs to be done to establish a reading habit in children, and yes, more books need to find their way into poor communities. In my home city in Ontario Canada, it is really distressing to see that the school libraries in rich neighbourhoods are well resourced with books because the affluent parents are really good at fundraising, while the schools in poorer neighbourhoods have far fewer books on the shelves. Opportunities for literacy should not be a privilege; it should be a right.
Correlation is not causation.
Everybody has access to PBS. But not everybody watches.Everybody has access to books. Not everybody reads. Even in the same family, those children who enjoy being read to get read to more frequently than the children who would rather do something else.
Literacy is good, but being able to other things, such as socialize and cooperate with others, is also good. The emphasis on early literacy in our society ignores the problems that many hyperlexic children have.
Aya, Gotta know, who's the dude with the teeth?
That is Bow, a chimpanzee who is literate in two languages, Hebrew and English. He is my adopted son, my linguistics project, and my co-editor here at Inverted-A Press.
He can read?
Well, not out loud. He doesn't have the vocal apparatus for that. But he points at letters and spells out words.
It's a long story. Here are a couple of articles that explain better:
The second link gets you to a complete video history of the project, which you can watch on Youtube: