How would you describe the reading level of the students you teach?'s Teacher Poll of the Week
How would you describe the reading level of the students you teach?
On grade level.
Below grade level.
Above grade level.

View Results

The results of this poll may not be surprising but they are certainly a bit discouraging. The majority of teachers reported that their students are reading at below grade level. Only approximately a quarter of students were at grade level, and less than 10% were reading above grade level. The reason these results are not surprising is because overall literacy rates have been declining in recent years across North America. If literacy rates are on the decline, then reading skills are obviously heading in the same direction.

Today, more than ever, there is such easy access to reading material that this trend is hard to fathom. Books of all sizes, shapes, and styles are available, as well as e-books, graphic novels, and any number of articles found on the computer. So why are reading levels so low?

Some parents and educators would like to point a finger at the video game industry. Just a generation ago, kids spent more time reading because there were not so many obvious distractions to eat up their time. Now, unless parents implement a set reading time, many children spend numerous hours per day playing interactive games either by themselves or online with cyber friends.

Video games have become the subject of blame for a great many problems in today's society. Childhood obesity and increased violence have also been laid at the industry's feet. Yet, the appeal of this form of entertainment seems to be never ending.

If only there was an interesting video game that incorporated reading skills to a greater degree. Picture this: students lining up to purchase this new game, knowing that they will have to use their dictionary to decipher some of the scenarios; parents warning their children that so much reading on the television will hurt their eyes; or kids staying up late in their rooms sneaking extra time on this fabulous new game. Sadly, this is only a fantasy. The allure of video games is that they provide entertainment without a great deal of thinking or involvement on the part of the player. Sitting on the couch with both your thumbs pressing the buttons madly doesn't require a lot of physical or mental acuity.

Unless parents and teachers can address whatever reasons lie behind declining reading skills, things are going to get worse before they get better.