I’m Not a Good Reader

By Rica

I was talking to a friend the other day about reading. The conversation started off by telling my friend about my favorite book. It’s called The Outlander, written by Diana Gaboldon. I told her reading is something that I enjoy doing whenever I have any free time. My friend was astonished that I read for pleasure instead of just needing to read for school or work. She went on by saying that she is not a good reader and has no desire to read unless she absolutely has to.

So I asked my friend to give me some reasons as to why she wasn’t a good reader. She told me that because she didn’t do well in school and did not get a high score on the SAT that she obviously wasn’t a good reader.

After reading Multiple Roads to Literacy written by Yetta M. Goodman, I know that people have a misconception about literacy.  Many people think that they are not good readers or good writers when in actuality they are. People believe that standardized reading tests and how well you do in school measures how good of a reader/writer you are. When in fact there are several different ways of being a well-read individual. 

So I began explaining to my mislead friend that just because she didn’t do well in school or a standardized test does not mean that she is not a good reader. I went on to tell her that she reads the newspaper everyday, which takes a good deal of reading comprehension. She also reads TMZ on a daily basis, which is an online celebrity gossip site. Now, I know many people would not consider reading celebrity gossip something a well-read person would read, but like a newspaper, you have to have reading comprehension and a lot of discernment as to whether you believe the latest celebrity scandal. She also has her own business and has to do her own bills, taxes, PR, and advertising. She loves to travel and find new places to go and visit. I told her that she had to look up flights and hotels and research on new places to see and explore and that takes someone who can read well. She is also an avid “Words with Friends” player. It is exactly like Scrabble; it is an iPhone application that you play on your phone. That game takes someone who has a large vocabulary and who can manipulate letters to make words.

She did all of these literacy practices everyday, but did not recognize them as making her a literate person. After having this conversation with her she began to realize that she was a well-read individual. I could tell I had changed her outlook on literacy. She now saw herself as a smart person who reads and writes well.

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4 thoughts on “I’m Not a Good Reader

  1. Anne June 27, 2010 / 10:40 am

    If we can show more people the value of all types of literacy, we can finally show children the value of the literacy they bring with them to school. I am glad you were able to show your friend that she was a well-read individual. It is time that people stop putting so much value on the standardized tests that are given to our students. These test do not show a true picture of what our children can do!

  2. Yadira June 28, 2010 / 9:51 am

    Unfortunately, standardized tests have this negative effect on our students. The immense focus on these tests gives the children the misconception of not been successful readers and writers if they are unable to obtain passing scores. In many cases they see themselves as failures, which they are certainly not! We need to demonstrate the successes they have in many other areas, other than standardized tests.

  3. Cecilia Meza-Solis June 28, 2010 / 12:48 pm

    Rica,
    I loved this article as well. I understand the importance of assessing our students to see where their growth is and where their weaknesses are, but I KNOW firsthand that standardized tests affect esteem, GREATLY. These tests do not show a true picture about each individual and yet we continue to torture our children with these methods. I truly wish we could step away from this mentality and move towards a friendlier way of learning.

  4. Anita Castillo June 28, 2010 / 8:15 pm

    Rica,
    I really enjoyed your article. You changed your friend’s perception of literacy and presented her with confidence again. The mentality of what the states and districts believe to be reading success is truly misconstrued. The pressure we place on students concerning standardized tests hinders their appreciation for literacy. These tests do not measure the true capabilities of the students. It just leaves a bad taste in their mouth; which in turn adds to negativity students have towards literacy. We really do need to move far away from this standardized test movement, which has received a bad reputation from teachers, and find a better way to assess literacy.

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