My husband quite often reminds me not to use my behavior as a child OR an adult as an indicator of others’… because I’m weird. From the moment I learned to read, I loved it. My favorite winter break was spent bingeing on every Baby-Sitters Club book in the series. As an adult, at any given moment, I’m listening to an audiobook and bouncing between one or two print books. Sometimes I read to learn. But most often, I read because I love it. But again… I’m weird.

Is it weird? Or did the mere fact I enjoyed access to books at home, school, and in the public library as a student give me a distinct advantage? The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), otherwise known as The Nation’s Report Card, indicates that students scoring in the lowest percentiles in reading and math are dipping noticeably.

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Further examination of the results shows a widening gap between the average reading performance of black and white students. While both are declining, the performance of black students is declining faster than white students.

The pandemic demonstrated further equity gaps as students across rural and urban America still lack access to the internet. In many of those communities, students couldn’t get to print books from the school or public library because both were closed–challenges that make learning to read, reading to learn, and learning to love reading nearly impossible.

About the Author:

Britten Follett is the Executive Vice President of Follett School Solutions.