Let Them Read
A progressive political blogger in Arizona recently happened upon a post by Teacher blogger Donalyn Miller (i.e., The Book Whisperer) on the failures of Reading First and was quite taken taken by her philosophy for teaching reading:
Miller has this crazy idea that students learn to read by reading, and they read when they're given lots of books to choose from and lots of time to pore over those books. Her school day begins with every student reading a book chosen by that student. You can't encourage the love of reading by putting students through reading drills, then giving them textbooks filled with pre-chosen reading selections and a few novels mandated by the state. Reading instruction is necessary, especially in the early grades. But you need to encourage students to read and to develop a love for reading. That means putting a wide selection of books at their fingertips, books they can see and touch and pick up and read.