Reading levels hurt children

I was in the bookstore the other day and overheard a mother ask her daughter if the book she was holding was “in her reading level.” This question sat there for a while like a spider on its web waiting for prey.

Although it may not affect the child then as she holds the book, that sort of questioning will take its toll on her as she goes forward in life.

First off, what is this reading level? According to www.scholastic.com, reading levels range from -3 to 3. A -3 rating would refer to a book that is easier to read, and 3 being a tougher book to read. Elementary and middle schoolers are given reading levels throughout school after taking tests that determine what types of books they can comprehend.

Back to the scene in the store. The mother watched her daughter do something positive in picking up a book, but then she took that away. What is so bad about a child attempting to read a level 3 book if their reading level is a 1 or a 2? Would it make a significant impact? I am going to go ahead and say that the majority of the time, it wouldn’t.

Reading levels restrict the learning ability of children. The great minds of history didn’t have reading levels. They weren’t going to hamper themselves by following limitations preventing them from stretching their learning capabilities.

This method prevents young minds from exploring and expanding knowledge, but it also demonstrates a poor choice of work ethic. Students who have been told by teachers and parents that they shouldn’t go over their reading level may go into a field of work with no intention of surpassing what is expected of them. If their job is to carry out a task that should take two hours and they do it in half that, they might chose to not go forward with a new task or duty because they have done what is expected of them and nothing more.

Nothing good comes from reading levels. These schemes are designed from of the minds of people who assume they know what is best. For years, children have been able to read whatever was in the library freely without regulations. Now, their desire to do something beneficial is being constrained.

Looking back, the people who were atop my graduating class were the ones reading thick chapter books earlier than others. It has nothing to do with ability if you haven’t been able to read at a “higher level.” Frankly, those at the top never read a picture book.

It is a bit of a stretch, but according to nces.ed.gov, students who are read too earlyin life have a much lower chance of living in poverty. These children are encircled with words at an early age and will have a better understanding of them later on. If you are not familiarizing yourself with the words that will pop up, then you will fall behind the others in your class. This falling behind may continue for a long time.

Let the children of our world read what they want and when they want. They won’t hurt themselves too badly opening up a book. If they do, perhaps they should read a book like, “Reading for Dummies.”

But wait, it might be out of their reading level.

This entry was posted on Monday, November 21st, 2011 and is filed under Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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