Early literacy development

Please Be Charitable for Literacy

As regular readers know, this is the time of the year that I identify charities that try to help improve children's literacy and language and to make books available to kids. Readers of my blog obviously care about whether kids can read and why not make that cause part of your charitable gifting as well.

Each year, I comb through Charity Navigator to identify appropriate literacy-focused charitable agencies. I look for national and internationals groups that are rated as 3- and 4-star charities (that means they are spending at least 80% of the contributions on services). 

Teaching Letters in Kindergarten

Teacher question:

Our kindergarten is using a reading program that has some wonderful lessons. However, we also feel that the pacing doesn't match current expectations for kindergarten students. For example, the program doesn't introduce high frequency words until December and it only teaches 25 words for the entire year. The first lesson for teaching letter names doesn't come until December. What does current research say about when letters, sounds, and sight words should be introduced in kindergarten?

Shanahan response:

Response to the Joyful Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland

Reader Question:

The Atlantic just published an article about the mistake American educators make by teaching reading in kindergarten. Shouldn’t we do what the Finns do: let kids learn to read when they want to and end up with high achievement?

Shanahan Response:

Does Preschool Improve Later Literacy Achievement?

Here we go again.

Last week, Dale Farran and a team of researchers at the University of Tennessee concluded that preschool education gets kids off to a great academic start, but by the end of kindergarten the results start to wear off. And, by the end of second grade you can’t even tell that the kids had attended preschool or not.

That suggests that preschool education is a lousy investment — if the goal is to improve students’ later reading and math achievement.

11 Ways Parents Can Help Their Children Read

Parents often ask how they can help their children learn to read; and it’s no wonder that they’re interested in this essential skill. Reading plays an important role in later school success. One study even demonstrates that how well 7-year-olds read predicts their income 35 years later!

Here are 11 practical recommendations for helping preschoolers and school-age students learn to read.

Sorting Out the Arguments Over "Independent" Reading

Teacher question:

Is Rhyming Ability Important in Reading?

Our district is wrestling with how much emphasis to give rhyming as an early literacy skill. We had previously downplayed rhyming as a necessary focus but the new CA ELA/ELD Framework and CCSS where rhyming is specifically called out has resurfaced old questions.

Connecticut Early Literacy Presentation

The Connecticut Council for School Reform asked me to speak in Hartford, on April 9, 2015. My presentation reviewed and responded to some of the complaints or concerns about teaching young children to read, and considered several issues in expanding preschool literacy opportunities. My presentation was based largely on the Report of the National Early Literacy Panel and a handful of other individual studies that I wanted to highlight. See the PowerPoint here.

Would you rather have $50,000 or $25,000? Explaining the impact of full-day kindergarten

Lots of interest, all of a sudden, in full-day kindergarten … I’ve had several questions about that scheme during the past few days. I’m not sure why, but it is well worth discussing yet again.

The doctor knows best

It’s a cliché, I know, but it really does take a village to raise a child. And that village benefits all around from children who read.

Pediatricians have recognized the power of reading to young children from a very young age and are releasing a policy statement emphasizing it. They’re actively encouraging parents of all backgrounds to read aloud to their young children — and that it’s really never too early to start.


"So please, oh PLEASE, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away. And in its place you can install, a lovely bookshelf on the wall." — Roald Dahl