Another gem from the “duh” department

This just in:

Study Links Drop in Test Scores to a Decline in Time Spent Reading
(NYT)

You don’t even have to read the article to know what it’s going to say. I mean. Isn’t that kind of like a headline saying "Study Links Increase In Wet-Hairedness to a Decline in Umbrella Use?" "Scientists: More Self-Inflicted Gunshot Wounds Equal Spike in Suicide Rate?"

And you probably also know what I feel about "testing" and "test scores" and "No Child Left Behind." (Quick summary: yuck, bleah, puke.) But even as a dyed-in-the-wool anti-tester, I can predict that when Fisher finally takes his first government-mandated fill-in-the-bubble test 40 months from now, he’s going to kick ass on the reading ("language arts") part. Why? Because he reads. He reads at the breakfast table ("Fisher, put down Harry Potter and the Vincible Enemy and finish your cinna-mini crunch!"). He reads in the car ("Mama, I’m not feeling so gooood…"). He reads in the bathroom (*flush*). He reads in bed ("Fisher, it’s eleven-forty-five. You can finish the book in the morning."). Nobody makes  him read. Nobody dangles dire threats about the consequences of unreadingness over his head. (Though, shamefully, we have been known to threaten him with taking away books for the rest of the day if he doesn’t get off his $@%! lazy @$$! and help out around the house a little.) He just reads.

Rhys, though not quite a full-fledged reader yet, lives a similarly book-absorbed existence. He especially likes Calvin & Hobbes (though I’m not sure what percentage of the jokes are wasted on him), nonfiction books about cats ("Mama, do you think a Sphinx cat is ugly? I think it’s ugly.") and especially the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems (author of the Pigeon books, e.g., Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!). Elephant and Piggie are, natch, an elephant (grey and with an uncanny resemblance to Papa) and a pig (pink and irrepressible) whose super-easy-reader adventures comprise a flawless blend of kid-friendliness and parentally-appreciated irony. And the facial expressions are incomparable.

But of course our kids are all about the books. They live in a freakin’ library, for gosh sakes. The living room wall is lined with books. Cookbooks teeter against the dining room wall (I really really need to fix that bookcase). Books spill from the shelves in their room and stack up on either side of the Parental Bed and ohmygosh let’s not even talk about the boxes of books in the basement.

So this is what got me. The study in the Times compared, at its extremes, children growing up in homes with more than 100 books and children growing up in homes with fewer than ten books.

Fewer than 10.
Jesus H. Pantsuit. I think there are more than ten books stacked on my nightstand. There are more than ten books on my library hold list. There are more than ten books at the foot of the boys’ bed every night. (Not when we put them to bed–no, when they go to bed all is a model of tidiness. They get out of bed and retrieve books after Mama and Papa retire for some wine-drinking grownup time.)

No wonder these poor media-addled kids are floundering in a world where their accomplishment is measured based on their ability to correctly darken a series of bubbles. There are fewer than ten books in their houses.

Where’s Dolly Parton when America really, really, really needs her?

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About Molly Newman

Writer, cook and trivia/spelling bee hostess, living it up in North Portland.
This entry was posted in Books, Homeschool, Pointless Rants. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Another gem from the “duh” department

  1. Mimi says:

    You know, I live surrounded by books – I read on the treadmill, while reading, while riding in the car, and would read while driving if I could finagle it. Yet, I have a voracious reader, and a reluctant reader. HOWEVER, I think that they both understand and relate to words well. And, that always tests well.
    You go, mom!

  2. Amy Sorensen says:

    Hmmmm. What made me shake my head in disgust at that article was that guy who suggested that “reading on the Internet” makes up for not reading books. Oh please.
    One of my never-to-be-forgotten moments when I was teaching came the first day after Christmas break. I thought it’d be cool to ask my students to talk about what books they’d gotten for Christmas (because in my worldview, Christmas without new books would be worse than Christmas without Santa Claus). They ALL looked at me with blank expressions, and then someone asked “who gets BOOKS for Christmas?” I was astounded! But apparently there really are people who exist without books, disturbing as that is. I just do NOT understand how adults cannot fathom the importance of reading. Even if you’re not a reader, you should still understand it’s important for your kids to be readers—and buy them some effing books from the Scholastic flyer or SOMETHING.
    Oooops. Guess you hit a nerve! Let’s end it with: I share your disgust.

  3. Helena says:

    We haven’t read elephant and piggie. I’ll look for them!
    I *used* to be able to read in the car. Alas.

  4. azureavian says:

    who *doesn’t* get books for Christmas?!?!?!
    i have a voracious (but only currently Manga) reader, a reluctant reader (also only wants Manga, sigh), and a “i’m reading everything in sight, except just really pretending cause i can’t understand all the words i can read yet”. tho, for a 1st grader, she can read an amazing amount. i despaired of the public school system to teach her that young, but i guess we lucked out. the flaky brainless-seeming teacher actually excelled at teaching 5 year olds to read and love it.
    you know me tho, have kids who don’t *read*? that’s like saying, well, something so unthinkable i can’t think of it right now.

  5. Summer says:

    Fewer than 10 books! That’s just crazy! Our house sounds like your’s, books everywhere. We’re constantly reading, or talking about reading, or thinking about reading…
    I feel sorry for those who don’t get that.

  6. Lori V. says:

    Less than ten books?!?!? That’s a month’s supply here… but all my readers are pretty reluctant readers, except Middle, who is turning on to Stephen King & Dean Koontz.
    BTW, did you notice, while searching the Dickipedia, that George Bush is conspicuously missing a page of his own? WTF!

  7. Stephanie T. says:

    oh my gawd…don’t EVEN get me started on this! it’s one of the main reasons i left teaching and the whole testing crap issue is a BIG reason for leaving elementary ed. as an administrator…
    all i can say is AMEN SISTER!!

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