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Closing The Reading Gap

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Closing The Reading Gap

Premier and Michael "Pinball" Clemons Encourage Boys To Read To Succeed

Office of the Premier

TORONTO -- Premier Dalton McGuinty is urging all students -- especially boys in Ontario -- to read every day.

"Read what interests you. Read what you want to read. Read on your own, with your mom or dad, or with your friends. But read every day," Premier McGuinty told students at Howard Public School today.

"It's the best way to learn and have fun. And it's the best way to ensure you succeed -- and our province succeeds -- in the future."

Premier McGuinty was joined by Minister of Education Gerard Kennedy, and Head Coach "Pinball" Clemons, receiver Tony Miles and linebacker Randy Srochenski of the Grey Cup champion Toronto Argonauts.

"Champions read, because champions know that if you want to compete and you want to win, you have to keep learning and having fun," said Clemons. "And that's what reading is all about."

Premier McGuinty and Clemons both challenged boys to close what some experts call "the literacy gap."

Test scores from Ontario and around the world show that boys lag behind girls in reading and writing.

For example, provincewide testing of Grade 6 English-language students in 2003-04 showed 51 per cent of boys met the provincial standard in reading compared to 65 per cent of girls.

Educators believe there's a direct link between that gap and statistics that show boys are more likely than girls to drop out of high school and less likely to attend university.

The province has a number of initiatives underway to tackle the situation:

  • A new 59-page booklet entitled Me Read? No Way! -- A Practical Guide To Improving Boys' Literacy Skills, has been provided to all elementary and secondary schools across Ontario.
  • Leading experts and educators will share proven strategies at a major symposium on boys' literacy, scheduled for January 25 and 26, 2005, in Toronto.
  • Since research shows that positive male role models can successfully encourage boys to read, the government is enlisting the help of the Argos to spread the message.
  • Increased investments in things such as English-as-a-Second-Language instruction and help for struggling students are helping close the gap.

A new literacy and numeracy secretariat is working with boards, teachers and principals to ensure every child can read, write and do math at a high level by age 12, as the government strives to reach the goal of ensuring that 75 per cent of students reach the provincial standard in literacy and numeracy by 2008.

Premier McGuinty asked parents to make time to read with their kids or encourage them to read on their own. (An attached backgrounder lists some tips on how to encourage boys to read.)

"I know how busy families' lives can be and the many demands placed on parents today, but this is one of the best ways to ensure our kids succeed -- and our province succeeds -- long into the future," said Premier McGuinty.

Head Coach Clemons and the Argos are joining Education Minister Gerard Kennedy today at events at a number of Ontario schools.

"As the Premier often says, it's going to take all of us working together -- teachers and principals, parents and leaders in the community, like the Argos, to unlock the potential of each Ontario student," said Kennedy.


Ministry pages:

Background Information

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Education and Training Children and Youth