Almost all of the kids in the program in which I teach have one thing in common: a hatred of reading. If I have them read a couple of paragraphs (say, 200 words total), they immediately begin complaining about how long that is.
“Man, that’s too long!” is a common refrain in the classroom.
When I have them read something to me aloud, it becomes clear fairly quickly why they’re not fans of reading: they’re not very good at it. They stumble on very basic words, and don’t recognize words they themselves use every day. And like most activities, the only way to improve reading is to practice — to do it. But many of the kids in the program come from demographics — low education and low income — in which reading is not particularly popular, probably for the very same reason.
And so for them, the dilemma of the 21st century is intensified: how do we teachers, in a world of video games, YouTube, and music videos successfully encourage reading?