National Research Council Report “Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children”
From the Executive Summary:
“Few things in life are less efficient than a group of people trying to write a sentence” (Scott Adams, The Dilbert Principle, 1996).
The decision that a group of people should write a report of this size clearly was not motivated by the goal of efficiency; it was motivated by the goals of comprehensiveness and accuracy and made feasible by the expectation of compromise and consensus. The field of reading is one that has long been marked by controversies and disagreements. Indeed, the term “reading wars” has been part of the debate over reading research for the past 25 years. The unpleasantness of the conflicts among reading researchers was moderated, if not eliminated, by the realization that all the participants are primarily interested in ensuring the well-being of young children and in promoting optimal literacy instruction.
The study reported in this volume was undertaken with the assumption that empirical work in the field of reading had advanced sufficiently to allow substantial agreed-upon results and conclusions that could form a basis for breaching the differences among the warring parties. The process of doing the study revealed the correctness of the assumption that this has been an appropriate time to undertake a synthesis of the research on early reading development. The knowledge base is now large enough that the controversies that have dominated discussions of reading development and reading instruction have given way to a widely honored pax lectura, the conditions of which include a shared focus on the needs and rights of all children to learn to read. Under the treaties that have recently been entered into, furthermore, the focus of attention has shifted from the researchers’ theories and data back to the teacher, alone in her classroom with a heterogeneous group of children, all awaiting their passports to literacy.
Catherine E. Snow, M. Susan Burns,
and Peg Griffin, Editors
Committee on the Prevention of Reading
Difficulties in Young Children
Commission on Behavioral and
Social Sciences and Education
National Research Council