top of page

5 More Reading Myths

This is the second part of a series about reading myths. Click HERE to read about the first 5 myths.

MYTH #6: There’s no need to read aloud to good readers.

Reading aloud to students doesn’t make kids better readers; explicit and systematic instruction does that.

When we read aloud to children it gives them the opportunity to hear the nuances of reading fluently.

It is an experience that children -- and many parents and teachers - enjoy and we should not stop just because they are fluent readers. If fluent readers were not supposed to listen to stories being read aloud, then there would be no such thing as audiobooks.


MYTH #7: Phonemic awareness is developed by learning to read.

Research shows that phonemic awareness, the understanding that spoken words are made up of sounds, in the early grades is the best indicator of future reading success.

All successful readers have phoneme awareness. Most poor readers do not.

Phonemic awareness is oral and auditory; it does not involve print or letter names.

As students break apart words into individual sounds, put those sounds together to make words, and change the sounds to make new words, they are learning skills they will be able to apply when reading, not as a by-product of reading.

MYTH #8: A Balanced Reading curriculum is the best of both worlds.

Reading instruction has shifted back and forth between whole language, with an emphasis on learning sight words, and phonics, with an emphasis on letter-sound correspondence.

Combining both types of instruction, or balanced literacy, seemed to be the best way to teach reading. The problem is what a balanced reading curriculum is can differ from school to school or teacher to teacher.

In some classrooms, balanced literacy means sprinkling in some phonics instruction during a small group reading session. For others, it means students complete phonics worksheets at one of the station activities. And for still others, it means starting out teaching phonics and then switching to whole language.

The interesting thing is no matter what you call it - whole language, phonics, or balanced reading - the literacy instruction we have been delivering to students hasn't been effective. Reading achievement has not gotten any better as the Reading Wars have dragged on.

Read more about the Reading Wars HERE.

MYTH #9 Intervention replaces classroom instruction.

Students are often pulled out of the classroom during the teacher’s literacy block. At first you may think this makes sense because if students don’t have foundational reading skills they won't be able to do the day’s lesson.

However, doing this means that students miss out on lessons from the current grade’s curriculum and that puts them further behind.

Ideally, we don’t want students to miss out on any classroom time. However, the worst part of the day for a struggling reader to miss is when the rest of the class is working on improving their reading skills.

Intervention is a supplement to classroom learning, not a replacement.

MYTH #10: Kids who have trouble reading have dyslexia.

Dyslexia is the most common reading difficulty but it is not the only one. Some common reasons students struggle to read are:

  • Auditory Processing Disorder - difficulty distinguishing different sounds or filtering sounds, such as a teachers voice and classroom buzz.

  • Language Processing Disorder - difficulty attaching meaning to words, sentences, and stories.

  • Vision Problems - including, but not limited to:

    • difficulty seeing the print clearly on a page

    • difficulty coordinating both eyes to provide an accurate message to the brain

    • difficulty moving eyes smoothly from word to word or from one line of print to the line below

Another factor is the quality of instruction students receive. Some reading programs commercially available use outdated, incomplete, or inefficient methods. Ironically, teachers rarely have a voice in choosing a reading curriculum even though they are the ones who will be using it.

Myths persist because it’s hard for us to change our minds about something we have long believed to be true.

In fact, I’d be willing to bet that while I’m writing to debunk these reading myths, someone else is writing to defend them.

We have a choice whether to believe these myths.

Our children are depending on us to make the right one.


<a href=''>Vintage photo created by luis_molinero -</a>


bottom of page