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Reading and Writing | Classes in Spokane
Reading and Writing

  • Bookstores are closing their doors and age-old presses are closing down.

  • Many young mothers are not reading books to their children any more. 

  • "You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them."  Ray Bradbury

  • Digital Books.   "The way we read is really changing.  It used to be we could go to a bookstore, with a $5 bill, and there would be no record that we had read that book."  Richards points out that kind of privacy does not exist on some reading devices, such as the Kindle.  Amazon knows much more than librarians ever did about individual reading habits.  "Amazon knows exactly who you are, all the books you have bought, what you are reading, what page you are on, which passages you have highlighted and how long it takes to read."  Unlike librarians, who are bound by professional ethics and dozens of statutes protecting individuals, companies are guided by privacy policies they write themselves. 

    "If we give up our ability to read confidentially, we've lost a real freedom of belief and freedom of thought, which I believe are our most important civil liberties," Richards said.  At stake, he argues, is our intellectual privacy, which he defines as "our ability to read and think and make up our minds about what we think about the world without other people watching or hearing."  (by Aisha Sultan, McClatchy-Tribune, St. Louis, and Professor Neil M. Richards, Washington University law professor, September 2012) 

  • Millions of people cannot read a job application, a medical form, or write a check.  
  • Education reduces the chance of being poor.  More than 75% of those on welfare are illiterate.  
  • One-fifth (19%) of high school graduates cannot read their diplomas.  Many students who can’t read still graduate from high school—cutting them off from so much in their world.  If you can’t read, how can you improve your circumstances?   (U.S. Dept. of Education and the National Institute of Literacy)
  • Being read to as a child is the number one predictor of academic success—they will do better in school and in life.  61% of low-income families have no books at all for their children in their homes.  Only 53% of preschool-age children are read to daily by a family member.  Early childhood education yields benefits up to four times the cost of the programs when the costs of special education, criminal activity, and reduced adult incomes are considered.  
  • One in 7 (14%) of U.S. adults, cannot read, and 21% read below a 5th grade level.  Research shows that 65% of the children of illiterate adults will themselves become illiterate adults.   (U.S. Dept. of Education and the National Institute for LIteracy) 
  • Nearly 3 out of 5 inmates in America's prisons cannot read above a 4th grade level.   (Dept. of Justice)
  • 85% of all juvenile offenders are functionally illiterate.  The U.S. Dept. of Justice claims that, "The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure."   (The Literacy Project Foundation in California; U.S. Dept. of Justice)
  • Over 1 million children drop out of school every year.  Children without some basic literacy skills by the time they enter school are more likely to drop out later. 

  • Students who don't read "proficiently" by 3rd grade are 4 times likelier to leave school without a diploma.  (The Literacy Project Foundation in California)
  • About 50% of America’s unemployed youths are functionally illiterate—meaning they cannot carry out simple tasks like balancing a checkbook or reading drug labels.
  • 44 million American adults are poor readers or functionally illiterate.  21 million Americans cannot read at all. 

What You Can Do
  • “Success by 6” book drive.   This program focuses on getting kids ready to read by the time they are six.  Success by 6 gives every new mother in Spokane County a "Parent-Baby Reading Kit" to encourage reading to kids.  Donate new and gently-used books which will be given to needy children, families and social programs in our community.
  • Read, read, read to your children.  Only 1 in 5 parents read to their children, but instead, they encourage TV and video-type activities. To help all children succeed intellectually, read to them every day.  They connect the warmth and love of being read to with books.  They love the sound of your voice, being close, feeling safe and feeling everything is OK at home.  Link the book with positive feelings.  Reading to children creates a magic moment for them.  
  • Read to your children everyday, at least 15 – 30 minutes, and this will teach them to love books and reading.  

  • Listen to children read stories, and discuss the characters and lessons. 

  • Make reading bedtime stories a tradition.  Discuss the characters and messages which are conveyed, and how they apply to your family values.
  • Reading develops a child’s attention span, verbal abilities, logical thinking, and imagination.  Stop at key parts and ask questions like, “What do you think will happen next?’  “Why did the character do that?”…etc.   
  • Limit TV time, or, as a family, give up TV for a week, and read every day. Reserve an area in your home for reading, and provide an example to your children by making books a part of the family routine.  (U.S. Dept. of Education recommendation)
Unlike TV, reading 15 minutes/day to children develops attention span, verbal abilities, logical thinking and imagination in children.  TV does the opposite—it shortens attention span, limits vocabulary development after about age 5—where reading does the opposite.
  • Read books children are interested in.   Find out what they like and choose those books in the library.  The family is the pivotal educator for youth.  Parents and grandparents can also read to them.  
  • Reinforce learning of the alphabet, recognition of numbers and flash cards at home.

  • Start a home library, even if it’s only a few books, and help each child start their own library of books and good music.
  • Take your children to the public libraries on a regular basis. Find out what topics interest your children, and look for stories or books that relate.   Teach your children there are a million things they do not know, but they can learn them by reading.  exploring the library will give children a thirst for knowledge, and the means to satisfy it. 
  • Hair Cuts and Books.  Any child who reads from a book at Fuller's Cuts while getting their hair cut gets $2.00 shaved off the price. The parents prep their kids to sit in the chair and get ready to read the book.  Barber Ryan Griffin cuts hair while the child reads.  He wants kids to discover their past, and overcome old notions that reading and learning are not 'cool.' 

    "I always go back to quote Frederick Douglass:  'It's easier to build strong children than repair broken men," Griffin says.  "So, if we can get these babies reading books or at least picking up a book....that's where it starts," owner Alex Fuller says.  (source:  "Read a book, get a $2 discount at Fuller Cut Barber Shop," CBS Evening News, October 18, 2016) 

    Parents can provide this book experience, and suggest the barber/hair dresser consider adopting this program. 

  • “Gifted Hands.”  Ask the library to acquire the movie “Gifted Hands—The Ben Carson Story,” and watch this motivational movie as a family.  This is the true story of one of the world’s leading brain surgeons who overcame obstacles to change the course of medicine forever.  While getting low grades in school, he discovered the love of books and reading, grew in intelligence, and in belief in himself.  You may also enjoy reading some of the books he has written, especially “Take the Risk.”  
  • Introduce your family to the incredible, true-life thriller, “Return With Honor.”  Air Force Captain Scott O’Grady, who went to high school in Spokane, was flying an F-16 over Bosnia when his aircraft was hit by a missile.  Capt. O’Grady relied on the survival training he received at Fairchild Air Force Base, until he was rescued.  This is an inspirational tale of courage, faith, loyalty, preparation, obedience, and patriotism told by an authentic American hero who went to high school in Spokane.
  • Review the books your children are reading.  Many schools are providing adult material to underage students.  Submit your objections to the School Board, and a formal complaint to the school district.  One parent’s complaint is considered an act on behalf of a larger audience of parents.  Remember—it is not censorship to protect your children/family from filthy literature.  The fact that a book or publication is popular does not necessarily make it of value.  Do not make your mind a dumping ground for other peoples’ garbage. 
  • Build confidence.  Teach a young child how to read 2 or 3 words.  Praise, praise and praise him, and he thinks he’s a reader.  Then he is interested in learning more.  If a child asks, “Mom, how far away is the moon?” and you respond, “I don’t know—let’s go look it up!”—in this way, you empower them, and they will start researching and discovering.  
  • Read books on a rainy day under a homemade tent with a flashlight.  Read a book about trains in a homemade train made of kitchen chairs lined up one in front of the other.  
  • Read non-fiction and the scriptures, reinforcing admirable heroes, their qualities, and moral values.  Books can help you teach your children self-discipline, honesty, compassion, perseverance, and bravery… through poems, stories and pictures. Volunteer to teach reading and comprehension skills to children and parents.
  • Tutor adults in literacy, and use visual materials (newspapers, library books, maps, etc.) to teach reading skills.
  • Volunteer with literacy programs, from the schools to the local prisons.
  • Help in the school library, help with a book drive, or help with book fundraisers.  
  • Record children’s stories on tape, and send the tape with the book to a children’s hospital or shelter.
  • Provide tapes and children’s books to the local correctional facilities so the offenders can read and tape stories to send to their children.  
  • Washington Reading Corps recruits and trains volunteers to help struggling students improve their reading abilities using proven methods.  It prepares children for long-term success.  According to the National Institute for Literacy, poor reading skills are strongly related to unemployment, poverty and crime.  
This program is co-managed by OSPI (the State’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction), the Governor’s Office, and the Employment Security Department. 

Following are Washington Reading Corps stats:  
    • Nearly 8,000 children across Washington State received tutoring through the Reading Corps in 2006.  
    • Since 1998, more than 95,000 struggling readers have been served.
    • Schools that participated in our state saw their WASL reading scores rise by nearly 31%, compared with the statewide average of 22% (since 1999).  
    • Thanks to the Reading Corps in 84 Washington schools, most of those struggling readers caught up to their peers or improved their reading ability by an entire grade level. 
Local Organizations
Additional Resources
Book Clubs
(listed by the Spokane County Library)

Washington Reading Corps (WRC)

(360) 407-1349
State of Washington - OSPI
The mission is to improve reading abilities of K-6 students across Washington state. This is achieved through research-based tutoring of struggling readers and effective collaborations among schools, families, community members, National Service, businesses and state partners.