National Academies Press: OpenBook

Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children (1998)

Chapter: Part II: Who Are We Talking About?

« Previous: 2. The Process of Learning to Read
Suggested Citation:"Part II: Who Are We Talking About?." National Research Council. 1998. Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6023.
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Part II
Who Are We Talking About?

Who has reading difficulties and what are the factors present in early childhood that predict failure and success in reading? Part II addresses these questions.

Large numbers of school-age children, including children from all social classes, have significant difficulties in learning to read. To clarify this statement, we outline a number of conceptual issues in identifying and measuring reading difficulties in young children. Categorical and dimensional approaches to estimating reading difficulties are presented, as are prevalence figures.

In a study on preventing reading difficulties, however, it is not enough to assess actual reading difficulties. Ideally, we want to know which children or groups of children will have problems learning to read when they are in school and given reading instruction. Effective preventions are necessary for children to receive in their preschool years, in some cases even starting in infancy—for example, for children with hearing impairments. Thus, there is a need to know what factors predict success and failure in learning to read. We consider predictors that are:

Suggested Citation:"Part II: Who Are We Talking About?." National Research Council. 1998. Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6023.
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Page 86

·      intrinsic to the individual and would be identified by assessing the child;

·      identified in the family environment; and

·      associated with the larger environment of the child—the neighborhood, school, and community in which the child lives.

Suggested Citation:"Part II: Who Are We Talking About?." National Research Council. 1998. Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6023.
×
Page 85
Suggested Citation:"Part II: Who Are We Talking About?." National Research Council. 1998. Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6023.
×
Page 86
Next: 3. Who Has Reading Difficulties? »
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While most children learn to read fairly well, there remain many young Americans whose futures are imperiled because they do not read well enough to meet the demands of our competitive, technology-driven society. This book explores the problem within the context of social, historical, cultural, and biological factors.

Recommendations address the identification of groups of children at risk, effective instruction for the preschool and early grades, effective approaches to dialects and bilingualism, the importance of these findings for the professional development of teachers, and gaps that remain in our understanding of how children learn to read. Implications for parents, teachers, schools, communities, the media, and government at all levels are discussed.

The book examines the epidemiology of reading problems and introduces the concepts used by experts in the field. In a clear and readable narrative, word identification, comprehension, and other processes in normal reading development are discussed.

Against the background of normal progress, Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children examines factors that put children at risk of poor reading. It explores in detail how literacy can be fostered from birth through kindergarten and the primary grades, including evaluation of philosophies, systems, and materials commonly used to teach reading.

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