Reading is the complex act of constructing meaning from print. We read in order to better understand ourselves, others, and the world around us; we use the knowledge we gain from reading to change the world in which we live.
Becoming a reader is a gradual process that begins with our first interactions with print. As children, there is no fixed point at which we suddenly become readers. Instead, all of us bring our understanding of spoken language, our knowledge of the world, and our experiences in it to make sense of what we read. We grow in our ability to comprehend and interpret a wide range of reading materials by making appropriate choices from among the extensive repertoire of skills and strategies that develop over time. These strategies include predicting, comprehension monitoring, phonemic awareness, critical thinking, decoding, using context, and making connections to what we already know.
As readers, we talk to others about what we are reading. These interactions expand and strengthen our comprehension and interpretation. In these interactions, we learn to read critically, to question what we read, and to respond in a certain way.
We learn to ask:
- What is this text trying to do for me?
- Who benefits from this point of view?
These questions help us uncover underlying assumptions and motives that otherwise operate invisibly.
In order to make sure that all individuals have access to the personal pleasures and intellectual benefits of full literacy, NCTE believes that our society and our schools must provide students with:
- access to a wide range of texts that mirror the range of students' abilities and interests;
- ample time to read a wide range of materials, from the very simple to the very challenging;
- teachers who help them develop an extensive repertoire of skills and strategies;
- opportunities to learn how reading, writing, speaking, and listening support each other;
- and access to the literacy skills needed in a technologically advanced society.
Furthermore, NCTE believes that . . .
- all teachers need to develop an extensive knowledge of language development, a thorough knowledge of all the language arts -- including reading and a repertoire of teaching strategies deep and broad enough to meet the needs of every student;
- all administrators need to secure funds and provide opportunities for professional development; and
- all educational stakeholders -- educators, policymakers, and the general public -- need to understand that they can best support beginning and advanced readers by participating actively in public conversation about the broad goals of literacy learning while acknowledging teachers as curricula decision makers.
Adopted by the NCTE Executive Committee, February 1999.
Executive Committee at the time of adoption:
- Joan Steiner
- Jerome Harste
- Anne Ruggles Gere
- Sheridan Blau
- Kathryn Egawa
- Richard Luckert
- Gwendolyn Henry
- Yvonne Siu-Runyan
- Charleen Silva Delfino
- Elizabeth Close
- Kathie Ramsey
- Kathleen Blake Yancey
- Nancy McCracken
- Louann Reid
- Victor Villanueva Jr.
- Pat Cordeiro
- Ben Wiley
- Keith Gilyard
- Faith Schullstrom, NCTE Executive Director
This position statement may be printed, copied, and disseminated without permission from NCTE.