AZ state secret: Kids still read

Just when we thought the state was going to Hades in a hand basket, some uplifting news filters through.

Two books and photo Ryn Gargulinski

Two books and photo Ryn Gargulinski

Arizona kids not only still know how to read, but they actually do it. Big time.

Elementary students throughout the state read more than 1 million books in 85 days as part of the 2010 Bookmans’ Reading Challenge, according to a news release from our beloved bookstore.

Tucson students were at the top of the heap.

Top honors – and $15,000 – went to Academy Adventures Primary School, 3902 N. Flowing Wells Road. Kids at this charter school, which was also the smallest school participating, averaged 329 books per student during the contest. Their grand total was 27,607 books.

Second and third place also went to Tucson schools: Senita Valley Elementary, 10750 E. Bilby Road, and Hudlow Elementary, 502 N. Caribe Ave. These two each receive a $1,000 Bookmans’ gift certificate for their efforts.

The contest included 75 elementary schools throughout the state and ended March 31. The grand prize award ceremony is slated for 2 p.m. on April 20 at Academy Adventures.

Good job, kids – and maybe you can pass along your reading skills to some adults.

Evidence of people’s lack of reading skills – or at least the refusal to use these skills – crop up daily. Some motorists are especially adverse at reading things like those big red signs with “Stop” on them. Shoppers often seem confused when confronted with “10 items or less” or “Line Starts Here.”

Joy of reading/Ryn Gargulinski

Joy of reading/Ryn Gargulinski

And those solicitors are still ringing my bell despite my menagerie of front door signs that proclaim, “No Soliciting,” “Trespassers will be shot,” and the very easy to understand “Go Away.”

Kids, please, teach these folks a thing or two. In fact, teach the nation a thing or two.

Stats from the Education Portal website tell us 50 percent of American adults can’t read above an eighth-grade level, 20 percent read below a fifth-grade level and about half “read so poorly they cannot find a single piece of information when reading a short publication.”

Top that off with the 44 million adults that can’t even read a simple story to their kids and we’ve got ourselves a problem.

But it may be OK, since the average American does watch more than four hours of TV each day, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co., which translates to about 28 hours each week.

That’s more hours than many part-time jobs.

If people spent that much time reading, the nation would be smarter, keener and probably have much more interesting conversations that stretched beyond obvious weather conditions.

The joy of reading is best instilled at an early age. Sure, it can be quashed later on by high school or college courses requiring things like “Moby Dick,” but it doesn’t have to be lost.

And we are glad to hear it’s still alive and well with a big chunk of Arizona elementary students and, even better, in Tucson.

Even if the state still goes to Hades in a hand basket, at least the new generation will be able to read the signs along the way.


Mummy books by local author James M. Deem make for good reading/Ryn Gargulinski

Mummy books by local author James M. Deem make for good reading/Ryn Gargulinski

What do you think?

Have you seen the ill effects of illiteracy in your daily life?

When was the last time you sat down and read a book?

If you have kids, do you read to them?

Did your parents read to you?

What’s your take on Kindle or iPad vs. the good old-fashioned print book?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
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14 Responses to AZ state secret: Kids still read

  1. azmouse says:

    I love to read and read every day. Good for Tucson’s kids!

    I have a son who has dyslexia and can’t read. It makes life so much more challenging.

    • Rynski says:

      yeah, i loved hearing about this contest – and the top three from tucson! – as well. sooo refreshing. also glad to hear you are a regular reader. i, too, read daily. it’s my bedtime unwinding.
      how do you deal with dyslexia?

      • azmouse says:

        Dealing with his dyslexia has been one of the biggest struggles. Years of tears for him, and years of him feeling dumb.
        Generally he took his tests in the library with a headset on (which is the same way they gave him his drivers test) He was in the maximum state allowed hours for special ed classes, which he also struggled with because other kids can be cruel. Luckily, he was always fairly popular, so that helped him and he had some really great teachers throughout the years that really stepped in to help him.
        He graduated from high school with straight A’s and is in college now, but he just takes it a day at a time.

      • Andrew Ulanowski says:

        that’s great – what an achievement Mouse – how are you doing?

      • azmouse says:

        Hey Andrew! Just running around crazy getting things ready for Mom and Dad’s anniversary party this weekend. Got some folks from out of town and doing a family dinner tonight.

        How are you doing?

      • Andrew Ulanowski says:

        Doing well Mouse, thanks. Just got home from doing some work. I hope the party goes well! And dinner tonight as well;  I would say you’re busy!

      • Rynski says:

        yaaaaaay! i love success stories – esp. when they are so well deserved.

  2. Andrew Ulanowski says:

    Good morning Ryn and Mouse-o-rama!
    I too read daily and often read a couple books at a time. My daughter reads daily as well.
    You KNOW how I feel about this Ryn. It’s good news to hear so many children being so successful with their reading!
    Mouse, my brother is dyslexic and he overcomes it using computer dictation and ‘speech to text programs’. He went from failing in school to an ‘A’ student in college.
    captcha= syrian goodness

    • Rynski says:

      dear syrian goodness,
      yes! i KNOW you are big reading fan, andrew – actually was thinking of you and your friend Dr. Maya Eagleton’s reading lab when i was writing this one up. how is the carson ms reading lab going?

      also very glad to hear about  programs to help those with dyslexia – i was hoping for such an answer. thanks for filling me in.
      keep reading! and then read some more…haha.

      • Andrew Ulanowski says:

        Dr. Eagleton’s class is doing well (thanks for asking!). She has been using a reading software package which allows the kids to listen to books as they read them. There are vocabulary builders and quizzes built right in.  The kids really like it. The children in her class have also prepping for AIMS which I believe is this week or next and it will be a big relief for everyone when the testing is done.
        The solution my brother uses is genius. I believe Santa Rosa Community College tested and provided the solution for him. It is in California.  He is allowed a recording device and tapes to ‘take notes’ at school. He ‘speaks’ his papers into his word processing software and what he reads is ‘spoken’ by his computer using ‘text to speech’ – this solution bypasses the visual input/output system which appears to be the source of his difficulty in reading and writing. He is a fine speaker and has no difficulty translating what he hears and so TADA! It works!

      • Rynski says:

        thanks for update! and more info on all of the above.
        wow on both – and any! – computer programs that make reading more fun, easier and accessible to all.

      • azmouse says:

        Yes, my son uses a program at college like the one you guys are talking about.

      • Jim Kelley says:

        That is greazt news. It is heartening to know that there are some schools that promote reading. I bet their parents read to them as babies and toddlers. I know mine did. I was reading Dr. Seuss on my own by age 5.

  3. BEA2plus4 says:

    We started reading to our children even before they were born and have continued as an almost daily treat.  Our 6 year old is in advanced reading at school and always has books he likes around to take in the car or read at home. Our three 4 year olds don’t really read yet but sit with books and pretend they are reading.  Our 6 year old often reads to our triplets.  We are so pleased!  I do believe that reading to them early and often was very important.

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