Reading Is Not Enough

Published March 1, 2000

A new Canadian study has found that children do not learn to read simply by having their parents read to them. Parents must accompany reading with teaching the alphabet in order for children to grasp the mechanics involved in reading.

Recognizing letters and sounding out words are needed to get children moving on the road to literacy. Just being read to over and over does not fire up the ignition of a child’s reading engine.

“A child is simply not going to learn that c-a-t spells cat just by being read to,” the author of the study, Jo-Anne Lefevre, told the Toronto Star. Lefevre, a psychology professor at Carleton University, conducted the five-year study with colleague Monique Senechal. The study showed that preschoolers whose parents had simply read to them were poorer readers at the end of first grade than children whose parents had taught them the letters of the alphabet.

After decades of using the Whole Language approach to reading, where sounding out words is frowned upon, phonics is making a comeback in Canadian schools.