Reading and writing are strong partners. According to the research in reading instruction resources, ” reading affects writing and writing effects reading.” When reading skills are lacking, writing will lack good grammar, main points appear poorly constructed, and the organization of thoughts and ideas become unclear.
Some people believe that there is less need for basic skills in reading as a result of the world’s all consuming interest in technology and television. It was noted that some people do not purchase books or may not read a newspaper.
Since writing is an intellectual skill that is so complex, there is a need to look at reading comprehension, how ideas are expressed, and if sources are helpful to organize ideas. Consequently, writing may be perceived as very unpleasant and to many people it is not an easy task.
Barriers to writing may include lack of confidence, a shortage of time, and difficulty with starting to write. Unfortunately, students have not been given enough practice to develop sophisticated writing skills. Therefore, a major challenge for educators is impressing upon the importance and power of written communication.
In 1935, Impact Information reported that the first literacy survey indicated that an average adult reader had limited reading ability. The average ability at that time was 7.8, which means the skill is equivalent to the seventh grade and the eighth month. Further, the average reading level has not changed over the years.
Research has indicated that the functioning level of 30 million adults is below the basic average. This means that these adults cannot perform activities such as read a story to a child, comprehend directions on a medicine bottle, read information provided on a bank statement, and have difficulty with safety instructions to operate machinery. This influences the ability to compete for today’s jobs.
If a document is written at the wrong reading level, the comprehension becomes difficult. A study by Google was done to determine the reading levels of television, newspapers, wire service, and magazines.
The following list provides the content percentages of the reading levels for some of the news organizations at the basic, intermediate, or advanced levels: Yahoo News -19 basic, 79 intermediate, 1 advanced; MSNBC – 27 basic, 71 intermediate, 1 advanced; Time – 19 basic, 76 intermediate, 4 advanced; CNN – 27 basic, 69 intermediate, 2 advanced; and Fox – 23 basic, 73 intermediate, two advanced.
Reuters, the New York Times, and Bloomberg Business Week are news organizations touted as having the more advanced content levels. Google has assigned an intermediate reading level for content.
A writer, who wants to perfect this craft, becomes a good reader. Writers read to appreciate words and find a way to embrace the art of language. Through lots of reading, a person can become a student of words.
Reading to write well can be a motivating experience. What readers learn can be used as a writer. Over a period of time, all the things that are compiled as a reader becomes a part of the lifeblood of a writer.
By Marie A. Wakefield
Photo by Geoff Coupe – Flickr License