Educators in Griffith know how books help youth

my turn
2010-04-11T00:00:00Z Educators in Griffith know how books help youthBy Bill Vargo - Times Columnist nwitimes.com
April 11, 2010 12:00 am  • 

 "Any reviewer who expresses rage and loathing for a novel is preposterous. He or she is like a person who has put on full armor and attacked a hot fudge sundae."

~ Kurt Vonnegut

Somewhere there is a budding young writer, an avid reader or a deep thinker masquerading as an awkward teenager. This young person is searching for her true inspiration and needs only the prodding of a caring teacher or a school program that will allow her to break free from the confines of the day-to-day routine.

There are countless tales of the great modern writers that wished for nothing more than the chance to curl up with a good book and a secret journal stashed under the bed. From this beginning our young can pursue dreams that are not given the big headlines. After all, unless you are J.K. Rowling, you are not likely to be a celebrity. 

Terri Ramos at Griffith High School is working to create that environment where students can begin to understand that reading is fundamental to whatever path you take in life. With about 20,000 volumes on hand in the library, Ramos can encourage the school staff to utilize the resources at their disposal to weave literature into their lesson plans. 

"Our school has incorporated 20 minutes into the school day every Thursday from 10:40 to 11 for silent reading," Ramos pointed out. Griffith High School has incorporated an important component into the school day, particularly when one considers that higher reading scores lead inevitably to higher achievement in school.

The National Endowment for the Arts, among other public and private institutions, points to the relationship between the amount of time our children read, in addition to the quality of that reading. This correlation points to better academic achievement and a better quality of life. You don't have to believe me, though, just read the research.   

The NEA's 2007 report To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence points to something that the Griffith school system and others around the area know intuitively, reading drives the learning process.  Unfortunately, many of our area schools have found that in order to meet their budget targets for the coming school year they will have to sacrifice some of those important reading programs. 

Library budgets are cut as are reading remediation programs. That is not the case at Griffith because of the support of the community, Parent Teacher Councils and the Griffith Education Foundation that allow the schools to continue to offer Academic Super Bowl competitions and to participate in the Eliot Rosewater Award selection process through the Indiana Library Federation for the best books students have read.

Those local student judges need not wonder the value of the literary process. After all, the award itself is named for a recurring character in Kurt Vonnegut novels. Now to close with another Kurt Vonnegut nugget, "I thank you for your attention, and I'm outta here." (From his posthumous address given in Indianapolis on April 27, 2007 by his son.)

The opinions are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at billvargo@yahoo.com.

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