Rudine Sims Bishop, professor emerita of The Ohio State University, frames the problem with the metaphor of “mirror” and “window” books. All children need both. Too often children of color and the poor have window books into a mostly white and middle- and-upper-class world. This is an injustice for two reasons. One is rooted in the proficient reading research. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, researchers asked, “What do good readers do?” They found that good readers make connections to themselves and their communities. When classroom collections are largely by and about white people, white children have many more...
Author Debbie Behan Garrett explains, “When a young child is playing with a doll, she is mimicking being a mother, and in her young, impressionable years, I want that child to understand that there’s nothing wrong with being black. If black children are force-fed that white is better, or if that’s all that they are exposed to, then they might start to think, ‘What is wrong with me?'” By providing children with African-American dolls that reflect their beauty, we can help to instill in them a positive self-image.
The Department of Education reports that literacy rates for more than 50 percent of African American children in the fourth grade nationwide was below the basic skills level. Post secondary education statistics continue to demonstrate that far too many African American students who finish high school do so as functional illiterates—that is, they cannot read and write at a basic level requisite for functional participation in modern life.
What can be done about it? Parents need to encourage the love of reading from an early age...during the first 3 years of life.
Just as a child develops language skills long before being able to speak, the child also develops literacy skills long before being able to read. What parents do, or don't do, has a lasting impact on their child's reading skill and literacy.
When it comes to your children, the books in your house matter more than your education or income
A study recently published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility found that just having books around the house (the more, the better) is correlated with how many years of schooling a child will complete. Moreover, another study, to be published later this year in the journal Reading Psychology, found that simply giving low-income children 12 books (of their own choosing) on the first day of summer vacation “may be as effective as summer school” in preventing “summer slide” — the degree to which lower-income students slip behind their more affluent peers academically every year.