BY: Ray Coury
Rebecca Coury is an English teacher at Cherokee High School in Acworth, Ga., and her main goal is to get students reading again.
She believes that reading is an essential part of life and a tool that leads to success in all areas of life.
She promotes reading vigorously to all of her students and encourages them to read whatever they want. She just wants them to read.
The U.S. has about 19 percent of the population who is illiterate. Given this might be a good percentage compared to some other countries this is still not a percentage to be proud of. This percentage also does not take into consideration the majority of students and people who have a below average grade reading level.
Coury is doing everything in her power to see this change and her passion for change is evident when she says, “The more my students read, the more they know. The more they know, the farther they can go academically. Reading prepares my students for the world of work, and reading arms my students against oppression.”
These are strong words yet these words are very true and very real. Reading is a tool that gives people opportunity. This opportunity used to be denied to people during the times of slavery as a method of continual oppression. Coury sees that trend and does not want to see history repeat itself.
In purely an academic mindset Coury supports her argument when saying, “The necessity for my students to be reading is that their time spent engaged in free and voluntary reading impacts their future and their ability to function academically. The students who read consistently and frequently earn higher grades in all of their classes and they score higher on all of their standardized tests. “
This is a staggering observation. This also should be an indication of whether or not a student would be more successful post high school and college.
These are all great ideals in concept but what are the actual motivations for reading? How are teachers going to change the future of their students’ lives by getting them to read? Coury has a few methods that have worked well for her.
“I provide high interest, relevant and top-selling books for my students. I provide books my students want to read,” she said. “I also find that students are more likely to read a book that I have read. There is a strong social component to reading that I encourage and use to my advantage.”
These are simple examples to help change the course of a student’s future.
Coury is a pioneer among many other teachers in the education field that believe reading is being overlooked.
“Reading time is overlooked for the same reason that fad diets remain in our culture,” she said. “ People tend to want a quick fix. Districts are encouraged to purchase workbooks and practice guides instead of best-selling novels and nonfiction. The real problem is that students need to read more. They need to self-select texts they enjoy. Free voluntary reading has been research proven to be the type of reading that improves reading skills faster than the rote memorization drill styles promoted in high stakes test study guide workbooks. “
Reading is essential to society. It is essential to the future. If students aren’t reading now and the average reading level in high school is fourth grade that does not bode well for the future and for the next and coming generations. We need to rewrite a better future by reading.