Reading draws various feelings from people. Some can’t live without it, others despise it, and a few tolerate it. With these variations in emotions, a lot of people have developed their own theories behind the effects of reading. A couple of these theories are scientifically based, while others are just baseless accusations. Before you fall into the pitfalls of these false beliefs, educate yourself with these myths related to reading and whether they’re right or downright wrong.
Reading is Learned Naturally
A lot of people make the assumption that reading, like talking, is learned naturally with or without the prodding of the parent. People argue that if the child is exposed to an environment rich in literature then they will develop their own literacy skills.
The fault with this thinking lies in the comparison between reading and talking. They are both language skills, but they are very different ever since the dawn of time. It can be said that talking is developed naturally. Humans have a very strong innate need to develop a language of their own. When they are left to their own devices without any contact from the outside world, they develop their own language. Such is the case in “twin language”, where two twins who spend a lot of time with each other develop their own sounds related to their environment. Keep in mind that this is without outside influence of any sort.
On the other hand, reading is not naturally developed. In fact, reading was invented (and continuously reinvented) by man over thousands of years. Reading and writing isn’t proven to exist for a long period to be classified as a natural talent.
If reading was indeed natural, then there would be no literacy gap or literacy crisis in all cultures now. Statistics have shown that a huge number of people are still illiterate despite the government’s best efforts to bring education to them. This further cements the idea that reading doesn’t happen naturally and needs to be cultivated.
The “Success Rate” of Reading Programs
A reading program is a special curriculum bought and sold to schools to address their literacy issues. This involves a change in instruction, use of special books, and development of specific evaluation tools. Needless to say, this involves a lot of time and money from the school involved.
Reading programs have proven to be very efficient in reducing the literacy crisis. However, there is no single reading program that has shown success among children and teachers across cultures. Furthermore, there is no reading program that has proven to speed up a child’s level of performance.
The reason for this difficulty in achieving a satisfactory success rate is because nothing can take the place of a talented and knowledgeable teacher. There are a few programs that aid the school in moving forward towards the right direction, but that’s just about as best a reading program can get.
Previous Methods of Teaching Reading was Better
You can easily hear people gripe on the street or over social media, that “back in the day, it was better because…” People have also applied this philosophy regarding reading. They say that teachers before were more efficient and students were more educated compared to the students of today.
In this case, they’re very wrong and far from the truth. Studies have shown that literacy rates have not changed dramatically for over 30 years. A huge percentile of the students are ranked in the “below basic” group, while less than 10% fall in the “advanced” group. In fact, some studies have even proven that literacy rates 40 years ago were worse than today.
The reason why people make this half-assed assumption is because the demand for literacy has increased substantially. A lot of people have difficulty finding jobs due to their lack of literacy skills even if it was the same rank compared to decades ago. Previously, people could find a job based on their practical skills even if their literacy skill was found lacking. Currently, literacy skills are based for a person’s success in the present and more in the future.
Movies Equal Books
This has been on for many years and is subject to many debates now. The grisly truth is this: movies are severely limited by a lot of factors. They are constrained by budget, technology (like visual effects), ratings, and choice of characters are all elements which comprise a film. On the other hand, books are rich with information and detail. Every swing of the blade and conversation is very important and can have lasting effects on the story.
The reason why people have made this wrongful assumption is because of Hollywood’s obsession in turning bestsellers into movies. People can’t help but compare books and movies because of this trend, and the uneducated few make the mistake of judging too soon.
Reading Develops Speaking
Research has established that the ability to manipulate and hear sounds is necessary for children to be good readers. In simple terms, this means that young children have to develop sounds before they can speak words. Later on, this spills over into reading when children can link the sounds they have learned into letters and written words.
While this fact holds true, it doesn’t happen ambiguously. If a child focuses on reading, he/she doesn’t develop the skill to read the word out loud. Keep in mind that when a child reads, they don’t need to speak the words to be able to understand it. It’s possible to read silently and understand what the idea is. Learning to speak is one of the basic foundation for reading and not the opposite.
Children Need to Read Only Once
For some adults, a single read is enough for them to retain information about the text. The same doesn’t apply to children for many reasons. Adults have already practiced reading a lot of times using different material and are thus able to process information at a much faster pace. This makes it easier to store information on a long-term basis with just a single read.
Children are not that skilled yet and need multiple reads for a single selection before they master it and understand what the text is about. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to let the child read texts two or three times first to allow them to practice as much as they need. This doesn’t mean that they need to sit down and read the text three times in a row – it’s very boring even for adults. You can spread their reading pace over a week, offering to read with them the first few times before they can read the same text on their own.
Reading and writing has evolved from simple scribbles on the wall into something more complex. These myths related to reading are from a wide scenario and some might even be applicable for you in one way or another. As what some of these myths have shown, a good way to fight ignorance is reading up on various things and having an open mind.