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Why we NEED to READ

April Szymanski, Staff Writer

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Did you know that 85% of the juveniles who face trial in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, providing that there is a close relationship between illiteracy and crime? More than 60% of all inmates are functionally illiterate. Now functionally illiterate means lacking the literacy for coping with most jobs and many everyday situations. I find it interesting that these juveniles and inmates that do not know how to read, are in the positions they are in. What if they were forced to read or reading was necessary for them in school, would they still be getting in trouble?

Reading can benefit you in many ways and it also seems to me that the ratio of literacy to crime is pretty significant. Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare, Dosomething.org says. Over 40% of American inmates cannot read above a fourth grade level. Not only will reading help prevent you from being illiterate in jail, it can provide you with better writing skills. During the course of your life, you may have to write some very important papers, maybe a resume to get a job or an essay on why you deserve to get a scholarship for that expensive college. How can you do so if you’re illiterate and can’t write?

A study from the University of California, Berkeley, says, “The combination of deficient decoding skills, lack of practice, and difficult materials results in unrewarding early reading experiences that lead to less involvement in reading-related activities. Lack of exposure and practice on the part of the less-skilled reader delays the development of automaticity and speed at the word recognition level.” Reading can help your brain grow and help your skills that you can use in life. If we do not read in school, where else are we going to develop these skills? Of course, you can read at home on your own time, but where is the motivation to do that when there’s TV to watch and friends to text.

A poll of middle and high school students commissioned by the National Education Association found that 56 percent of young people say they read more than ten books a year, with middle school students reading the most. Nea.org says, “Some 70% of middle school students read more than ten books a year, compared with only 49% of high school students.” It seems that as we grow older, we stop reading. Personally, I used to read as many books as I could get my hands on, now that I’m in high school, I barely read, maybe a book a month. I mostly read the books required for my English class, which usually is not my preference of a good book.

If we could get kids more involved with reading by making it necessary in school, maybe the percentage of crime and illiterate inmates would go down. You can’t force kids to read, but you can encourage them. Some schools have book clubs, which I think is excellent to get kids more involved in literature, but otherwise there is not a whole lot of activities to get you pumped about reading. For younger kids, maybe a reward or some kind of incentive to read will motivate them, and get them excited about reading at a young age. As kids get older though, it might seem childish to get a piece of candy or pizza party. What if reading x amount of books affected your grade? Maybe that could be a way to get kids willing to read, or it could just make them dig their heels in. Reading definitely has its benefits, now we just need to get kids to realize why these benefits can be crucial to their everyday lives.

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Why we NEED to READ