Just 34 percent of fourth graders are reading at an acceptable level in grade four. Only 8 percent are "advanced" readers. On the surface, it may appear to parents that their children have four more years of grade school in order to become acceptable readers, but new studies show the importance of reading by grade four.
Findings by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Baltimore, are the first to show that kids are far more likely to drop out of high school if they can't read pretty well by fourth grade. Unless America dramatically improves the number of kids who can, a growing proportion of the them will live in poverty as adults. The Foundation contends that the tendency to drop out of high school begins in the early grades when children don't learn to read. They say dropouts "don't just happen."
What can parents do?
* Show that education is important by getting a GED if they didn't graduate from high school themselves.
* Do all they can to assure that kids attend school every day.
* Show an interest in their children's reading beginning in first grade. Have them read to you and help them with the words.
* Provide books they like. Let them pick out books at the library or grocery store. Some kids like comic books.
* Don't let them lose reading skills over the summer. Keep them in practice. Find books they will like to read.