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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Getting Kids to Read--Why Is It Important?

Way too many graduate without a legitimate education. A high percentage (85%) of children attending school in the Juvenile Detention Center, where I taught all primary and secondary grades, were functionally illiterate. If they read, most read way below actual grade level. We had a good library and all the books were on the accelerated reading lists, but most children chose to read much younger books. This was startling because statistics say that if a child hasn't mastered reading by fourth grade, he or she has a 67% probability of ending up in jail or on welfare. Too many end up as adults, unable to read. I'll never forget coaching a young Samoan drug dealer/electrician from Los Angeles who was doing time at Leavenworth's max security Federal penitentiary. He thanked me with tears in his eyes because, for the first time, he had been able to read a letter sent by his wife.

If you want to really make a difference in some one's life, coax and coach a non-reader to read. it's important to that person and it's important to society. Mentor kids in the reading skills they will need to function in society. I have seen so many prisoners who had given up. Left behind by the education system, and more importantly, their parents, they felt a life of crime was their only alternative.

Find a Big Brothers/Big Sisters or other community help program and give of your time and talent's.

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