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Readers are Leaders

The great Frederick Douglass was once quoted as saying, "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free."

Another great quote that has stuck with me for the more than three decades since I first heard it is, "If you don't read, you're no better off than the person who doesn't know how."

From the very first day we opened Lighthouse Christian School, we have had a goal to ensure that each of our students know how to read. We discovered early on that a person who cannot or does not read typically is handicapped throughout their life.

In fact, an annual study on reading found that proficient third-grade readers were nearly five times more likely to graduate high school than their peers with below-basic-reading skills.

And Reading skill matters for more than just reading! Believe it or not, another study revealed that students in the top third of reading skill answered 70 percent more math and science questions correctly than students in the bottom third.

Research has shown that not completing high school not only has individual consequences but also economic and social ones. Individual consequences include lower academic skills and credentials, which translate into unfavorable labor market outcomes. The case is clear that learning to read early increases your chances to at least graduate high school and prove to possible college admission.

Here are some national stats and facts that should sober us all:

  • 2/3 of students do not read at grade level

  • 80% of students from low-income backgrounds read below grade level

  • The link between academic failure, delinquency, and crime is welded to reading failure.

  • The average high school dropout can expect to earn a full $10,386 less than the typical high school graduate, and $36,424 less than someone with a college bachelor’s degree.

  • High school dropouts were more than twice as likely as college graduates to live in poverty

  • High school dropouts are exposed to many socioeconomic forces that are often gateways to crime and data shows they have a 63x higher incarceration rate than among college graduates.

Can learning to read guarantee better outcomes? Maybe. But why take the risk?

If these data are even remotely accurate, learning to read should be a top priority for all of us!

So how do we do it?

  1. Ask questions!!!! - Don't let shame prevent you from asking how to read if you don't know how or you're not good at it. Certainly, our Lighthouse teachers and Campus Directors stand ready to help you any way they can. Just ask them or a friend, parent or other family member.

  2. Set reading goals - You can start by checking out a book at your location library or borrowing one from a friend. It could be on just about any subject. Choose one that interests you. Then start reading. A good goal may be to read a couple pages each day. Or, even better, knock out a chapter.

  3. Challenge yourself - Work yourself up to more advanced books. Don't be afraid of books containing a few words with which you are not familiar. As you're reading, just make sure to jot them down and look them up as you go or ask a friend.

  4. Stay accountable - A great way to read is to read with someone else. This may actually be with a parent or friend sitting with you. Or it could even be where you and a friend agree on a set number of pages to read each day or week. Then you compare the things you read.

  5. Pull someone along - One of the best things you can do as a good reader is to take someone with you! By that I mean to keep your eyes and ears open for friends or family members you may notice are struggling while reading. By the way, it doesn't matter their age. There are many older folks who either simply never learned how to read or did not become proficient at it.

As you continue on your journey to become a better reader, enjoy the adventures you'll have in reading the stories and biographies and make sure to spread the love. And remember, readers truly are leaders!

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