Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a presentation on independent reading given by Penny Kittle, an author, literacy coach and high school English teacher. Penny shared the story of running into one of her former middle school students and discovering he had dropped out of college because he couldn’t keep up with the reading demands. Apparently, this boy was a bright, capable student in middle school, but since he never read much after he left Mrs. Kittles’ class, he was unprepared for college and wound up dropping out. After this chance meeting, Penny Kittle pooled numerous college professors across the country to determine just what colleges require in terms of weekly reading. The answers were varied but most said that students were expected to read between 200 to 600 pages per week throughout their college years. Even Penny Kittle, a woman who has dedicated her life to turning her students into readers, admitted that her high school seniors were unprepared to do this volume of reading.
So what does this story have to do with the youngster in your life? Well, forewarned is forearmed. I believe if parents and teachers recognize the importance of developing reading stamina and require a high volume of reading from our youngsters from the early grades right through high school, we truly can send our kids off to college knowing they are prepared for success. Is your child able to read for a sustained period of time? Is your child reading an appropriate volume of books for his age? Please take the time to consider these questions and share your answers or concerns. In my next few posts, I’ll discuss both volume and stamina and offer suggestions for improving both.