By the end of this week, more than 70 percent of children in the United States will be reading at least one new book per week, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
And for the first time in more than a decade, nearly 60 percent of students are reading to older children.
The figures underscore how much of a shift has been occurring since the 1970s, when the average school age dropped from 12 to 10.
They also highlight how challenging it is to keep pace with the increasing number of books students are being introduced to in kindergarten and high school.
The U.S. is now the only developed nation in the world that does not mandate the use of a “kindergarten book.”
The federal government also does not require any specific books be pre-approved by schools, and many states do not require teachers to read or reread books to students.
But many parents and teachers are not satisfied with that approach, saying it puts too much emphasis on reading and not enough on learning, and it limits kids’ creativity.
In addition, many parents are frustrated that they don’t have the time to read books aloud, and they feel they are being forced to.
The New York Times recently reported that the average American schoolroom is about 30 percent full, and teachers who are required to read new books are often only able to read one to two at a time.
“If we really want kids to learn to love books, we should do this by giving them the chance to do so in their own time,” said Stephanie C. Smith, president of the New York Teachers Union.
“I think that our students are getting too many distractions.”
The New York City Council passed a resolution last week to require kindergarten teachers to be required to reread at least a half-dozen books, including some classics, to keep students in line.
“It’s not about a new book.
It’s about teaching kids to love reading and to appreciate the value of books,” Council Member Dan Donovan said.
“The more books you have, the more kids will be exposed to them.”
The new plan is expected to help with the reading deficit, said Katherine McBride, director of education and research at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.
While reading is important, she said, it’s also important for parents to help their kids understand what books are and how to use them.
“We can’t teach children the books themselves, we have to teach them how to get the right idea out of them,” McBride said.
“In our society, it really does have to be a teacher-driven approach to books.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a teacher, a parent, a business owner, or a corporate executive, you have to help kids understand the meaning of books.
They need to understand how to read and understand what’s going on in the book.
That’s the teacher-led approach.”
While the idea of requiring teachers to re-read a book in front of students seems simple, some parents worry that it could lead to a culture where reading is a priority.
The New Yorker reported this week that many schools don’t allow the students to read to their own children because it could jeopardize the students’ health.
It also reported that many states are allowing kids to read in the same classroom with their parents, and the problem of reading and math deficits is particularly acute in rural and inner-city schools.
“A lot of parents feel they don´t want to have their children sit next to their mom or dad and reading books to them,” said McBride.
“They think, ‘You can’t have your kids read to each other.
That would be bad for them.
It would be disrespectful to them.’
But in fact, kids need to be able to do that, because they’re the ones reading them.
You have to let them do it.”
In a statement to NPR, a spokesman for the National Council for Science Education, the trade group for the education community, said the idea is to provide teachers with a framework for reading, which they can then use to support students in their learning.
“These new policies are intended to ensure that our classrooms are designed with a clear emphasis on the critical reading skills necessary to meet the needs of our nation’s students,” the statement said.
The president of a California public school district said the new rules will make it more difficult for her to keep her students in front and in line and that she feels “frustrated” with the state that she can’t control her kids.
“This is not the right way to do things,” said Superintendent Michael G. Johnson.
“But I am frustrated by the fact that they are doing it at all, so that’s why I’m not happy.
I don’t think this is a good thing.”
But McBride says that schools are in a better position to be ready for the change, because of the recent national attention on how to make kids read.
“Teachers need to have the experience and skills