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5 Myths About Reading Instruction

Updated: Mar 13, 2021

There are many theories about reading. Sometimes what we believe to be true --old wives’ tales, for instance - isn’t always true. Reading theories are like old wives’ tales; they have survived the test of time even though research has proven they aren’t true.

Here are 5myths about reading:

MYTH #1: Learning to read is a natural process.

If this were the case we would be able to put a book in a child’s hand and walk away and the child would start to read. Learning to speak is a natural process; however, reading - connecting the words we hear to the words in print - must be taught explicitly.

MYTH# 2: If your child is struggling to read, they just need more time.

The sooner reading difficulties are addressed the better. Over time the gaps become wider and deeper. To compensate, kids form bad habits which get harder to correct the longer they are allowed to persist. If reading is difficult, kids will start to dislike it and avoid it altogether.

MYTH #3: Kids who can read all the words quickly are better readers.

Not necessarily. Doing something fast doesn’t mean it’s being done well. A fast reader may be skipping or guessing words. Even if that’s not the case, a fast reader may not understand what’s just been read. Countless times I’ve listened to a student read all the words accurately and with expression and then they respond with “I don’t know” when I ask the student questions.

MYTH #4: Good readers use context clues to figure out unknown words.

Researchers have found the opposite to be true. Good readers attend to the letter-sound correspondence in words. Word identification becomes orthographically mapped, that is, brain pathways are formed connecting letter sounds (phonemes) with printed letters (graphemes). Each time a student reads a word another brain pathway is made; eventually the word is recognized instantly. Context clues are useful while reading, just not for decoding unknown words. Context clues are words or phrases that help a reader figure out the meaning of a word and to comprehend the text.

MYTH #5: Picture books are not for good readers.

Many picture books like Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown are written for very young children, However, there are many picture books that have rich vocabulary and address complex topics. They are more than worthy of being read by good readers.

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