Judith Schickedanz and Molly Collins responded to questions and comments February 4–8, 2013. Read the questions and their responses below!
If asked when children learn to read and write, the average person would probably say, “in first grade.” Although this is indeed true for most children, success in first grade relies on more than just the instruction provided then; it also depends heavily on the knowledge and skills acquired long before. In fact, the experiences that build a foundation for learning to read and write have a history stretching all the way back to infancy.
Children who struggle in learning to read often enter first grade without the foundational knowledge they need. This situation is not easily overcome. Only about 25 percent of children who struggle in learning to read in first grade ever read within the typical range for their grade level! We wrote our book So Much More than the ABCs: The Early Phases of Reading and Writing to help early childhood professionals and families support young children in acquiring the understandings, knowledge, and skills needed for later success in learning to read and write.
With such a long road of school and learning stretching out before them, a primary goal of early literacy experiences is to build children’s interest in reading- and writing-related activities and learning in general. Without interest, children will not be motivated to read or write; without motivation, children will read and write relatively little and only what and when they must. Children who read little are unlikely to become good writers. Therefore, promoting children’s desire to read and write is as important as helping children develop the necessary understandings and skills essential for learning how to read and write.
We set out to create a comprehensive book that would inform readers about the current research and also provide many specific strategies that support young children’s later success in both learning to read and write, and in using reading and writing to learn. Some of the strategies we suggest will be familiar to many readers, while others might be new. As readers become acquainted with the book, they will notice that strategies and recommendations are tied closely to research and are illustrated with children’s work; transcripts of adult-child interactions; children’s books, including digital media; and photographs of materials and supportive environments.
We look forward to hearing readers’ thoughts about the book, and to some great discussions kicked off by thoughtful questions.
— Judith Schickedanz and Molly Collins