“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss
According to Leigh Anne Williams from PublishersWeekly, Canada is launching a national reading campaign this fall. A 2011 survey reported that only half of the 240,000 children in grades 3 and 6 surveyed said they liked to read. Compared to the 1999 survey where 75% of 3rd grade students and 65% of 6th grade students enjoyed reading, the drop is alarming and begs the question, “What are we doing wrong?”
The ultimate goal of the campaign, according to its website, “is to create a strategy that will promote reading amongst all Canadians; Reflecting the value of reading as a tool for democracy and civic engagement, as a means to equalize the playing field for all Canadians, as a way for Canadians to learn about themselves, and as a vehicle for joy.”
In simpler terms, the goal is bring back the joy of reading. Author Marcelo Suarez-Orozco said at the Vancouver Summit that “the heavy emphasis on testing and test scores in many schools and education systems is killing the joy of learning for students.” While standardized testing is necessary to assess the effectiveness of schools, students need to be given more time and space to simply enjoy what they are learning and apply what they’ve learned.
The campaign will mainly target aboriginal people, new immigrants, and of course, children. “Children are crucially essential in all of this, because if you are turning children out of schools who don’t want to read, then you really are jeopardizing the future of reading,”
Author Marcelo Suarez-Orozco is not the only one concerned with how standardized testing is affecting reading. Earlier in the year, The New York Times published an article called “Will Standardized Tests Kill Reading?” KJ Dell’Antonia writes that “By asking young students to spend time taking tests like this we are doing them a double disservice: first, by inflicting on them such mediocre literature, and second, by training them to read not for pleasure but to discover a predetermined answer to a (let’s not mince words) stupid question.”
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