Needle and ThREAD

Teen Literacy

So far in the Bookmark Challenge, when we’ve talked about literacy on the blog, we’ve focused primarily on new and early readers. Nothing beats instilling an early love of reading and building a strong foundation of language and literacy, but we must continue to build on those skills if we are to make fully literate adults of tweens and teens. Reading skills need to be taught and practiced all through the school years, both in school and at home.

According to the Nation’s Report Card, fewer than a third of the nation’s 8th graders read and write at a proficient level.

Reading is a subject taught in the early grades; it seems to disappear from the curriculum at about 4th grade. Yet “many excellent third-grade readers will falter or fail in later-grade academic tasks if the teaching of reading is neglected in the middle and secondary grades.” (From ReadingNext by Gina Biancarosa and Dr. Catherine Snow.) The problem? Reading comprehension.

feeding-frenzy.jpgReading frenzy?! Oh, I thought you said “feeding frenzy.”

It’s one thing to be able to read the words of a text. Understanding those words and formulating and communicating ideas based on them is something else. Students need to learn comprehension and communication as well as basic reading skills.

So how can we help? For starters, if you notice your child’s grades slipping as s/he gets older consider getting help to work on your child’s reading comprehension. Ask at your school or library for local resources. Beyond that, keep reading with your kids even after they’ve outgrown your lap, either out loud together, or reading the same books individually so that you can discuss them. Keep modeling reading behavior. Talk about books.

Parent/Child book clubs are springing up all over. See if your school, library, or bookstore has one, or consider starting your own.

Literacy is important not only in the early years and grades, but all through school, and afterward. Some Needle and Thread: Stitching for Literacy bookmarks are donated to adolescent and adult literacy programs, and, of course, we encourage everyone to Read and Stitch.

Categories: Needle and ThREAD

1 reply »

  1. Thanks for emphasizing the importance of helping children and adolescents develop strong reading comprehension skills. offers some great resources on this topic for parents, teachers and librarians, including a Classroom Strategy Library with tools and recommendations for teaching a wide range of comprehension and writing skills. We also have an ‘ask the experts’ section, which features a panel of adolescent literacy experts who can answer any related questions. is produced by the Learning Media Group at WETA and funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Ann B. and Thomas L. Friedman Family Foundation.


    The Team