When I was little, I remember my mom reading chapters of Harry Potter and The Hobbit to me every night. She, along with my father, gave to me the gift of story and a love of reading. It's easy to take literacy for granted (obviously you're able to read this) but it is quickly becoming an unsettling problem for schools and homes across the United States.
By the third grade, children should (in theory) transition from learning to read to reading to learn. But in many homes, this is not the case. In 2009, 67% of all fourth graders scored below proficient on national reading tests. This single subject area can decrease the likelihood of graduation immensely. Children are as much as 4 times more likely to fail to graduate on time if they are below proficient readers by the third grade! The statistics of poverty can also be a major hinderance as well, although I was shocked that 50% of children in affluent settings are not proficient!
These numbers are startling and disturbing. Reading is a tool in which we can communicate with others regardless of time or location. The written word should be the first priority in education. Hands down. Don't just blame the schools though. Be like my parents. READ TO YOUR KIDS. Show them how wonderful reading can be. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword and we should reflect that for our future generations.
Check out the infographic below for more info on the 5 components of reading and what you as parents and mentors can do to help this problem.