The Reading Crisis

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Harvard University Press, 1990 - Education - 191 pages
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How severe is the literacy gap in our schools? Why does the nine-year-old child from a culturally disadvantaged background so often fall victim to the fourth-grade slump? Although the cognitive abilities of these "children at risk" may be consistent with the norm, their literacy development lags far behind that of other children. In The Reading Crisis, the renowned reading specialist Jeanne Chall and her colleagues examine the causes of this disparity and suggest some remedies.

Using Chall's widely applied model of reading development, the authors examine the strengths and weaknesses in the reading, writing, and language development of children from low-income families in an attempt to identify the onset of their difficulties. They show how, in the transition from learning the medium to understanding the message, the demands on children's reading skills become significantly more complex. The crucial point is fourth grade, when students confront texts containing unfamiliar words and ideas that are beyond the range of their own experience. According to Chall's findings, the lack of specific literacy skills-not cognitive factors-explains the deceleration in the reading and writing development of low-income children. The authors outline an active role for the schools in remedying weaknesses in literacy development, and give suggestions for the home and the community. Their recommendations address both practical issues in instruction and the teacher-student dynamic that fosters literacy development.



Table of Contents:

Preface
Acknowledgments

1. Literacy and Language among Low-Income Children
2. The Children, Their Schools, and Their Families
3. Reading Development
4. Writing Development
5. Language Development
6. Interrelations among Reading, Writing, and Language
7. Classroom Instruction and Literacy Environments
8. Home Influences on Literacy and Language
9. Influences on the Lower and Higher Grades
10. Where Do We Go from Here?
Epilogue: Persistent Questions

Appendix A: Samples of Narrative Writing Representing Average Holistic Ratings and Production: Students' Handwriting
Appendix B: Samples of Expository Writing Representing Average Holistic Ratings and Production: Students' Handwriting
References
Index



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An important study for wide academic and professional attention.
--Suzanne W. Wood, Library Journal
 

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The reading crisis: why poor children fall behind

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Of the children from low socioeconomic environments studied in this lucid work, most were reading at or above standard norms in the second and third grades. This skill deteriorated beginning with ... Read full review

Contents

Literacy and Language among LowIncome Children
1
The Children Their Schools and Their Families
20
Reading Development
27
Writing Development
55
Language Development
92
Interrelations among Reading Writing and Language
104
Classroom Instruction and Literacy Environments
114
Home Influences on Literacy and Language
128
Influences on the Lower and Higher Grades
136
Where Do We Go from Here?
142
Persistent Questions
165
Samples of Narrative Writing Representing Average Holistic Ratings and Production Students Handwriting
171
Samples of Expository Writing Representing Average Holistic Ratings and Production Students Handwriting
173
References
176
Index
184
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