Why Public Schools Fail to Create Readers

Here’s an article I dug out for one of my worldbuilders. It’s well-written, it’s fascinating, it’s full of history, it’s true, and if you haven’t run across it before, you’re going to struggle with some major resistance to what it says. You won’t like what you read.

But, with that in mind, it’s something every author should know, and probably every reader, too.

Once you’ve read it, I’d like to hear your stories on how you became readers, and how you became writers.

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65 responses to “Why Public Schools Fail to Create Readers”

  1. Sallie Avatar


  2. Juneta Avatar

    My mother potty trained me with books. We’d sit while she read to me, eventually she’d sit while I read to her, and there was no skipping words to hurry when she read. I learned to read by word recognition.

    I had to relearn to read, when I went into kindergarten by phonics. It was a bit of a battle at first, but by the time I entered first grade I could also read by phonics.

    I read really fast. I always have. My mother took me to the library, when I was young to pick out my own books, because the school would not let me read novels till after 3rd grade. You had to read according to your grade level.

    I read Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell at age 7. It is still a book I love. My first novel they allowed me to read in school was Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. I loved and its still a favorite. The next novel that made an impression on me during school was Shadow of Lynx by Victoria Holt. It open up a whole different kind of reading for me leading me to fantasy and science fiction.

    The emergence of Star War books after the movies was another opening in my reading universe. I progressed to C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, McCaffrey, by this time I was reading all kinds of genres. I still do. Its an addiction I can’t get enough of… I love to read. It sits on the shelf with chocolate and coffee for me waiting for me to indulge.

  3. Ro Avatar

    Hey, I went to public school! Lol

    I could read when I was two. My mother was a teacher and I keep pestering her until she taught me. By the time I was in primary five I was reading grown up books, in fact, any book I could get my hands on. This is when I started on sci fi. When I ran out of that, I tried fantasy, but never had the same love for it. I think I’d spend less money on a hard drug habit than I do on books. 😮

    1. Holly Avatar

      😀 I went to public school, too. At least most of the time.

      But like your mother, my mother taught me to read before I got there.

  4. Kathy Avatar

    I taught high school English for over 30 years in the public schools in the U.S. (I retired in 2002) I knew many teachers like myself who encouraged creativity and reading in our students.

    But times have changed. Mainly because of the standardized testing that is supposed to earmark that kids have learned and teachers have taught. Bah, humbug! Children are not cars assembled in a factory. And parents have lost the art of being parents, ready as too many in this society to find someone else to blame if things go wrong in their lives.

    My mother was a reader and taught us at an early age all about the public library and the wonderful books available to us for free. I filled my classroom with books and took joy in hearing a student recommend to another student a book I’d given him, hearing him ask me if there was a sequel (Yes, there was – Beyond the Chocolate War)

    Too many children come from a home where there is nothing to read, not even a newspaper. And now social media becomes a focus for them.

    I had a student for only 45 minutes a day – as did other teachers. Please don’t place the burden of raising children on teachers – that is parental responsibility. Teachers can open new worlds, encourage children to learn, give them chances they might not have otherwise. But they can’t take the place of parents or change the environment in which students live every day. They don’t have that kind of power.

    Even though I loved teaching, I would not do it in today’s world where teachers are blamed for far too much beyond their control.

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