Friday, October 24, 2014

There is no "Percy Jackson" problem

Sent to the New Yorker, Oct 24

There is no "Percy Jackson Problem" (October 22). Decades of research published in scientific journals support Neil Gaiman's position that the "light" reading that young people select on their own is a gateway to heavier reading and more: Those who do more "free voluntary reading" do better on tests of reading comprehension, writing, vocabulary, spelling and grammar, and as they read they select, on their own, more challenging and a wider variety of reading material.  In his book  Scientific Genius Dean Simonton concludes that "omnivorous reading in childhood and adolescence correlates positively with ultimate adult success."

The scientific evidence clearly supports the "so long as they're reading" camp.

Stephen Krashen

original article:
some sources:
Krashen, S. 2004. The Power of Reading. Libraries Unlimited and Heinemann (second edition)
Simonton, D. K. 1988. Scientific Genius. New York: Cambridge University Press.

1 comment:

  1. As a middle school special ed. teacher working in a poor school with a predominant ELD population I used the Lightning Thief and books like it to teach reading and language arts. First of all "light" reading is only light if you are a fluent English reader. What I liked about these books is that students wanted to read them., I could teach literary devices with them better than I could with the grade level anthology, and reading levels made large gains.
    I think this works because the more a person sees a word the more the context clues they acquire to infer meaning as well as they gain more opportunities to be fluent with the word. After all I think this is the way most fluent readers learn to read.
    I think it is a bit arrogant of a teacher to assume they know which words their students know and which they will struggle with. Hence using "light" reading enables me to address the vocabulary deficits that I don't know about.
    Only a good story from a good book will turn around a reluctant reader. I approach finding reading material for my class by asking, would I buy this book? Did Hollywood spend millions of dollars on this story to bring it to the movies? If I wouldn't buy it, Hollywood gave it a pass, why would my middle schoolers want to read it? I think they are more like me than they are different.
    Bring on Sea of Monsters!