Honoring Children's Rights to Excellent Reading Instruction

Schools in the United States face enormous challenges in teaching children to read and write. Meeting these challenges in the 21st century will require a fundamental change in how policy makers, parents, and school professionals look at improving schools.

The International Reading Association declares that it is time to build reading programs on a set of comprehensive principles that honor children's rights to excellent reading instruction. The Association believes that the ten specific principles outlined here are the right of every child:

  1. Children have a right to appropriate early reading instruction based on their individual needs.
  2. Children have a right to reading instruction that builds both skill and the desire to read increasingly complex materials.
  3. Children have a right to well-prepared teachers who keep their skills up to date through effective professional development.
  4. Children have the right of access to a wide variety of books and other reading material in the classroom, school, and community libraries.
  5. Children have a right to reading assessment that identifies their strengths as well as their needs and involves them in making decisions about their own learning.
  6. Children have a right to supplemental instruction from professionals specifically prepared to teach reading.
  7. Children have a right to reading instruction that involves parents and communities in their academic lives.
  8. Children have a right to reading instruction that makes meaningful use of their first language skills.
  9. Children have a right to equal access to the technology used for the improvement of reading instruction.
  10. Children have a right to classrooms that optimize learning opportunities.

The Association strongly believes that to honor these rights – that is, to meet our obligation to provide excellent reading instruction to every child– classrooms need to be rethought, sufficient monetary investments must be made, and communities must wholeheartedly support reading reform efforts.

Making a Difference Means Making it Different: Summary of position statement (March, 2000). International Reading Association. Reprinted with permission.

Read or purchase the full text of "Making a Difference Means Making it Different" on IRA's web site at www.reading.org.


You are welcome to print copies for non-commercial use, or a limited number for educational purposes, as long as credit is given to Reading Rockets and the author(s). For commercial use, please contact the author or publisher listed.

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"When I say to a parent, "read to a child", I don't want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate. " — Mem Fox