Books in Grass

Is Your Child Reading below Grade Level?

Taylor Jackson

July 22, 2013

(Lexington) – Reading below grade level is a problem that can effect children beginning in elementary school and have lifelong consequences. The Annie E. Casey Foundation states that in 2009, 34 percent of fourth graders tested did not have satisfactory reading skills.

It is always a concern, no matter how old, if a child struggles with reading.

“My son could watch an episode of Nova and tell you everything that happened, but ask him to read something and he would struggle,” said Patty Taylor, the youth services librarian at the Lexington County Public Library. “He had trouble until age eight or nine. At some point, reading just clicks for a child and that’s when it clicked for him.”

Third grade, specifically, is where the struggling readers are separated from the adequate readers. When a child hits the third grade he or she is either well on their way with reading proficiency or struggling to keep up.

“Third-grade reading is a powerful predictor of school success high school graduation. Children who are not ready for school, who miss too many days and who lose ground over the summer months are likely to miss the third-grade reading milestone,” said Ralph Smith, the senior vice president of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and managing director of the Grade-Level Reading Campaign, in a press release from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

According to the Annie E. Casey website, a correlation exists between a child’s reading proficiency in third grade and being successful academically in later years. Sufficient readers in the third grade are likely to be prosperous not only in academics, but in life and a career too.

Hope is not lost if a child does not make the third grade milestone. A variety of steps can be taken to improve a child’s reading level and get them back on track, should he or she fall behind.

The first step to advance a child’s reading level is to talk to his or her teacher to express certain concerns.

In addition, the University of Texas Center for Reading and Language Arts suggests to focus on the basics of decoding skills as well as word patterns. It is important to find words that involve skills a parent and child have been working on.

It is imperative to involve activities that interest struggling readers; otherwise they will not want to practice. Games, puzzles, or letter flashcards are a few options to choose from. Scrabble and crossword puzzles are two tasks able to help children improve their reading and spelling. Sessions should be fun but focused.

Reading aloud can improve comprehension, listening ability and concentration skills. A study conducted in 2008 that appeared in the “Archives of Disease in Childhood” found that reading aloud provides children with a better understanding of grammar, syntax and story structure. These skills are essential when working to bring a child’s reading up to the correct grade level.


Patty Taylor (Youth Services Librarian): 803-785-2630




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