Even with the hard work and caring of many dedicated teachers and concerned parents, we continue to have a reading problem. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, 38 percent of fourth-graders cannot read and understand a short paragraph of the type found in a simple children’s book. Results from the 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress showed that 60 percent of U.S. adolescents could comprehend specific factual information, but fewer than 5 percent could elaborate on the meanings of the materials read.

Even with the hard work and caring of many dedicated teachers and concerned parents, this country continues to have a reading problem.

No wonder many parents are discouraged. But you needn’t be. By doing simple things like reading to your child, sharing your thinking about what you read, and telling your child stories, you can help him develop the foundation needed to become an avid reader. By using the 7 Keys that great readers use, you can help him learn that reading is not a chore but a lifetime adventure.

Reading is fundamental to success in life. It’s that simple. Reading opens the door to virtually all other learning. You have to be able to read to learn mathematics, science, history, engineering, mechanics, political science, not to mention surfing the Web or figure out how to operate that new DVD player. Basically, you have to be able to read to succeed.

Poor literacy contributes to poverty, unemployment, and crime. Our prisons are occupied with bad readers: 70 percent of inmates fall in the lowest levels of reading competence. Seventy-five percent of the current jobs require at least a ninth-grade reading level. American school graduates earn 76 percent greater on average than people who have only a high school degree.

Reading isn’t an isolated subject but a vital way to an end. That conclusion is really a productive, improved lifestyle where your child can learn more complex advice, pursue pursuits, and make a nice living. Reading opens the world of their mind to your kid and significantly increases her entire life prospects. There’s little doubt about this: The greatest gift you can give your child is a love of reading.