A Way to Improve How Children Read

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Gov. Kathy Hochul wants to change how reading is taught in New York, where performance has lagged in recent years.Credit…Cindy Schultz for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “As Literacy Lags, Governor Proposes Changing the Way Reading Is Taught” (news article, Jan. 4):

New York State’s shift back toward phonics-based literacy instruction is of utmost importance. The yearslong regression in literacy worsened by the pandemic has placed children from New York’s most vulnerable communities at an unprecedented academic and social disadvantage. We may not fully comprehend its repercussions for over a decade.

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s initiative is a step in the right direction. Phonics plays a crucial role in developing reading skills by illustrating the correlation between letters and sounds.

In our 22-year history, the Reading Team, which follows the same “science of reading” principles in the governor’s proposal, has shown that understanding these relationships empowers learners, particularly young children, enabling them to decode words and enhance fluency. Our students, who come to us with poor reading skills, go on to score consistently higher on tests than other children in the city’s schools.

I hope we will see further expansion of these policies across the country. In the interim, one of the most effective ways to assist our children in improving their reading skills is to encourage them to read aloud alongside an adult who can offer real-time guidance, correction and encouragement.

Charon Darris
New York
The writer is the executive director of the Reading Team, a childhood literacy organization.

To the Editor:

If you want to improve reading, improve writing, because when you read, that’s what you do, but when you write, you read and write. If you do only one, you’ll pay the price for not doing both, and 10 years from now the price will be more than the $10 million proposed by the governor of New York State. It’ll include disenchantment.

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