NPR posted an interview with Daniel T. Willingham, the author of “Raising Kids Who Love to Read”, and I will read his book with excitement for more details and suggestions. I am wondering if anyone developing education policy is thinking about this issue in the same way as the author. My takeaway message from the interview was that parents who display a love of reading, and actively express the belief that reading is an enjoyable way to spend time and gain knowledge, will raise children who love to read. It may be more effective than increasing the the amount of books in a home, and maybe more important than the overall quality of the books. I personally know families of modest means that manage to send the first message, and wealthy families that do not.
Sending this message to children is subtle and takes time to impart, but I think the author has a great point. Children watch and learn from actions as well as statements, and their family values will stay with them for a very long time whether they are spoken or unspoken. A family that values reading and lives that value actively could support even a child with learning differences to persist and thrive in the world of books. On the other hand, a family that sees reading as only necessary to get good grades or gain status, but is not done for enjoyment, is going to send a very different message. And families that are scrambling to just survive might have books in their home but struggle to model how they fit into daily life.
I intend to write a full review once I have read this book, and I am interested to see if the author has some practical suggestions to support literacy in the most vulnerable families.