Heroes of reading – Teachers have a critical role in promoting reading and literacy to children

Much has been said about how the Internet and handheld devices like smartphones and tablets have made it harder and harder for parents to raise children readers. And while printed books continue to win its reading battle against the ebooks and ebook readers, a study conducted by Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of over 600 original titles annually, showed that children reading printed books are dropping—a sad fact considering the numbers never really got that high.

“That’s why Scholastic’s mission is simple: help children read and learn,” says Scholastic Asia President Frank Wong. “We want to help build a nation of readers and learners. When you read, especially when you read independently, the next phase is learning. Reading promotes critical thinking, connecting thoughts, creativity—these are all 21st century skills. Without love for reading, it’s very hard to see how our children can progress and really excel in the 21st century.”

Image by Noel B. Pabalate

This is why teachers have a critical role in promoting reading and literacy to children.

“In the Philippines, we have been very successful with our literacy agenda simply because our teachers have embraced it,” says Dr. Duriya Aziz, Scholastic International publisher and vice president. “I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of classroom observations in Manila and I observed that teachers read aloud to kids. Every reading lesson, there is a read aloud session. This is very important because it means that of the 60 minutes of class, the teacher believes that reading is valuable enough to devote 10 or 15 minutes to it.”

By advocating reading, the teachers are modeling a good behavior to their students that is sustained. “I can see the kids so excited about reading. So teachers are fundamental to our advocacy,” Dr. Aziz adds.

Recently, Scholastic held its second Scholastic Readers Cup in recognition of the exemplary efforts of educators, from teachers and librarians to principals and school administrators, in improving literacy in their respective schools. The winners were chosen among educational institutions that participated in Scholastic’s Assessment and Enrichment program (AEP) and Independent Reading Program (IRP); two literacy programs which proved instrumental in producing significant improvements in students’ reading abilities.

The Readers Cup is a tribute to the countless teachers, librarians, principals, and school administrators whose work and leadership have paved the way for students to become better readers and good learners.

“The concept of the Reader’s Cup is you enable the school to assess the students reading capability. Read at the level that they are comfortable in and then pick and choose the kind of things that they like to read. So if a child can read at the right level books that they like and enjoy reading, eventually they will have that good reading habit,” says Frank Wong.

This year, the Readers Cup was given to a number of educational institutions including OSJ-Sto. Rosario Academy, OSJ-Holy Family Academy, St. Thomas Academy, Dr. Yanga’s College Inc., St. Paul College, Balayan,  Iloilo Scholastic Academy, OSJ-Saint Joseph Institute, Saint Mary’s Angels College of Valenzuela, OSJ-Saint James Academy, OSJ-Joseph Marello Institute, Sta. Teresa College, Notre Dame of Greater Manila, MGC New Life Academy and Falcon School.

“Our teachers, librarians, principals, and school administrators are doing a fine job at helping us raise a nation of readers, and we should all be grateful to them. The Scholastic Readers Cup is just one way of giving recognition to these notable educators. They are the real heroes in our quest for a more globally competitive Philippines. We hope to continue this tradition every year. By shining the spotlight on these individuals and institutions, we hope to inspire other educators to raise more and better readers and good learners, too,” says Fritzie Salem-Cruz, general manager of Scholastic in the Philippines

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