Home » Nonfiction » Connie Juel » Learning to Read and Write in One Elementary School

April 21 , 2011

Learning to Read and Write in One Elementary School


When a fourth-grade student, Jenny, was asked about reading, she stated: "I love to read, you get real neat ideas. I really like books about animals and biographies. I'm writing my autobiography now. Oh, I also really like Judy Blume books. " Her enthusiasm for reading is evident as she tells you about the Judy Blume book she just read, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (1970). Jenny reads almost every night at home. Jenny's classmate through 4 years of elementary school, Anna. responds, when asked about reading: "I hate to read; it's boring. " Anna says she never reads at home. She says she'd rather watch television or play with friends. Anna would even rather clean her room than read. She explains, "I'd rather clean my room because it makes the room look neat. Reading makes my head hurt because it's so boring and no fun. " Jenny and Anna attended a large neighborhood elementary school in Austin, Texas. The school is located in a lower socioeconomic status (SES) area of small houses, duplexes, mld apartments. About 45% of the children at the school are Hispanic, 35% are African-American, and 20% are Anglo. The school consistently ranks mnong the lowest schools in the district on standardized reading achievement tests. Upon entering first grade, neither Jenny nor Anna could read the words that were to appear in their first preprimer reader.
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