Your High School Kid Can’t Read – And It’s YOUR Fault

November 17, 2015 — 202 Comments

frustrated-college-student 2


Not YOUR teenager, of course. Your kid can read.

Are you sure? Stop reading this right now. Call your high school kid in, grab a book, and ask him/her to read it aloud.

Go ahead. I’ll wait.




One out of four of you will be heartbroken.



Your first mistake was assuming school took care of that.


Today, I sat with a boy who is going into his senior year of high school. He struggled with word recognition. He couldn’t pronounce or understand most words over 2 syllables.

Before you assume he’s a minority living in a low socioeconomic area, he’s a very white child in a very upscale suburban neighborhood. His father is an attorney. He goes to an exclusive private school.

He is functionally illiterate.

He was never fully diagnosed with a specific learning disability, nor was his reading concern addressed. He does get extra time for all school and standardized testing, but how will that help him? You could give him an entire day, and he still won’t be able to pronounce nor recognize the word “adequate.”



What can you do at this stage? If your reading impaired child is preparing to apply to college? (Applications that you, no doubt, will be heavily assisting with.)

I really don’t know.

The sad truth is, most kids who are really not “college material,” still go. Even if your kid can’t read, he or she will still likely to be able to attend and graduate college, providing it’s not a top-tier university. How is that possible? Again – I  don’t know. I’m not there. Maybe, the same extensive cheating that enabled them to pass all required high school subjects?

You could save that money you put aside for his education, and perhaps buy him a Jiffy Lube franchise. People will always need their oil changed. I have a friend who owns 108 of them. He’s a bazillionaire.

If she’s a girl, maybe sending her off to college is not such a terrible idea. Do a little demographic research, and ship her off to a school with a wealthy incoming freshman class. Invest a little money in her grooming and wardrobe so she looks cute all the time. Hopefully, she’ll snare a rich husband and this whole “not reading” thing will become a moot issue.

Because basically, at this stage of the game? In terms of your child becoming a proficient reader? Unless he or she really WANTS it, you’re screwed.


And You Have No One to Blame But Yourself

In theory, it’s the school’s job to make sure every student is reading proficiently. But in reality, there are 25 or more kids in an elementary school class where I live. It’s impossible for one teacher to keep tabs on every student.

As they go up in grades, this benign neglect transforms into something more toxic. In high school, the only kids who get any attention are at the very top and the very bottom of the class. The boy I discussed at the beginning of this story? He’s a B student, and not the focus of anyone’s attention. All the kids in the middle are just nudged through, one grade at a time.

If they did detect a problem at school, then there are services provided for the students. But if they didn’t? Or if you didn’t?

These kids just got pushed through.


Making sure your kid can read is YOUR responsibility as a parent.

I’m sure many of you have your hackles up over that one. Considering how much of your tax dollars go towards education, why should YOU take over this job?

Because, look what happens when parents don’t manage their child’s education!


It has to be SOMEONE’S responsibility. YOU birthed them. At the end of the day, at the end of the year, at the end of the 12 years, they leave school. But they’re your kids, full-time, for your entire life.

So I am hereby delegating every one of you who has a child to take an active role in whether your child can read.



When Little Dude was a really little dude, I read to him every single night. From the time he was an infant, actually, up until he was about 9 and started reading on his own every night. I essentially turned him into a little reading machine, which I plan to write about in detail.

I’m not some kind of super parent. Trust me, I’m fucking him up in all sorts of ways. Just not when it comes to reading.

So many of my friends complained that they simply couldn’t do this, what with having three kids. And perhaps only parent present at bedtime.

These are the same parents who have to juggle those three kids in 18 different after school activities. Someone has to get Johnny to his private golf lesson while Katie trains for her equestrian trophy and Spencer practices underwater hockey. When it comes to extracurricular activities, parents will enlist anyone – grandma, a neighbor, frenemies – to tote these kids around.

Get creative when it comes to getting your little ones read to at bedtime! Do it in shifts.


And if they don’t like books, and reading? MAKE THEM LIKE IT.

Act out the characters. Engage them.

it’s not just about doing well in school, although reading is everything there. It’s about nurturing their imagination, building their creativity, and expanding their understanding of everything around them.

Teach your kids that through reading, that they can be inspired, and enchanted. They can travel the world; explore the galaxy –

one book at a time.

“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.”

–Neil Gaiman



Have you encountered this kind of situation?
Why don’t people read to their children?
Talk to me. I’m listening.


Ooh! I have a Facebook page! Come over and like me so I can have friends without ever leaving the house.

I’m also on Instagram

202 responses to Your High School Kid Can’t Read – And It’s YOUR Fault


    I agree with this post 100% I tutor in Maths and English a few nights a week. The amount of parents that notice this either just before 16+ exams or after the child has failed them is shocking.

    The basics are simple, if your child can read and knows their timetables the rest will come. But with such large class sizes, you cannot expect one teacher to be able to spot every difficulty with every child, the parents need to step up and take some responsibility.


      When he was younger, I used to quiz my kid on his timetables while we were driving around.
      I believe it made a lot of difference. Thanks for reading!


        I make timetables a challenge through times tables grids. When they see how quickly I can complete it their competitiveness kicks in! Keeps it fun for both of us 🙂


        I have started posting about my top tips from what I have noticed over the years if your interested


    I have been in public school in three different school districts over the course of a 20 year career. I have seen it all. Kids that cannot read in the 12 grade. There reading level is that of a 3rd grader. It is a travesty for children to be pushed along without anyone parent or teacher taking the time to see if a child can read. However, as was stated teachers have many children in a class and some parents don’t have the time to address the issue. These excuses do not hold water in my opinion. The school and the parents need to be in partnership in a child’s education. If the school is failing your child do what is required to insure your child succeeds. I remember my son was about four and his teacher comes running to me in disbelief stating Oh my god your son can read. I was not surprised because my wife and I are book hoarders. If there was show about hording books we would be the stars. Literacy begins in the home. Great article.


    Very nice post. There are a hell lot of teachers who don’t understand what kids ever have to go through and perceive not being able to read or study as laziness.


    It’s usually not just the parents fault, but a combination of factors. In fact, it’s largely a problem in our educational system (read Nice rant though.


    Excellent essay. This should be handed out at back to school nights all over the country. I fear for this generation and the ones after it.


    They don’t read to their children


    Honestly This Is So True, But As Much As It’s A Parents’ And A Teachers’ Responsibility To Teach, That Child Has To Be Willing To Accept An Education.


    You have done a wonderful job writing this…This is just AMAZING!!


    This is so sad… It hurts to know how much illiteracy there is. I can not understand for the life of me why parents don’t read to their kids, not even 10 minutes a day, every other day, 10 minutes a week for crying out loud! Something, anything would help these poor kids…
    I read to my babies multiple times a day. I work full time, run my blog, run a business and have five kids, and I read to all of them every day. I help them read. We take turns reading (or “reading” for the younger ones, it’s really cute) every night.
    My 8 year old spends at least 2 hours a day reading, because she loves books. It doesn’t matter what it is. She even tried to tackle Frankenstein all by herself!
    I first realized just how bad it was when a social worker who was helping us out with some stuff came over and said we had so many books. We’ve got one six foot book shelf with 5 shelves, and a two foot bookshelf with 3 shelves. That’s it. That isn’t a lot of books, as far as I’ve ever understood. I grew up with 3 massive bookshelves and a bunch of little ones. I read constantly, I was read to constantly.
    Why don’t people read? Why don’t people read to their children?
    I love reading so much… I just want to cry for these children… My heart truly breaks for them.

    Thank you for writing this, and have a beautiful day sunshine. ^.^


    The article addresses the question “what” and touches the question “how” but if you want to know the essence of any given thing the question that must be addressed is “why.” Why are the students “pushed through” and what effect does that have when a student is “pushed” into a grade for which he is not prepared? The pushing through


    Reblogged this on GET RESURGATIZED and commented:
    Another perfect example of turning the magnifying glass on ourselves, and taking responsibility for our own actions. Parenting is not a babysitting job until you send your kid off to school, and it’s as much the parent’s fault for their child becoming a bully, as it is their fault for not teaching their own child how to read!


    This is definitely an epidemic in this modern-day society when everyone is so busy. We (as a whole) are busy by choice, not necessity because our priorities are skewed. I can say this because mine once were. The pursuit of money and acquisition of things should not be what drives us. We – as a society – need to focus on the importance of life. On being happy, on our families, on taking care of the basics before worrying about the extraneous stuff. One of those basics are reading, which is fundamental to comprehension and living well as good adults. I’m not preaching something I won’t do myself. I have 3 natural born kids, and soon to be 2 more step kids. I read to my children from the get-go but by the time my 3rd child came around I was too busy growing my business and taking care of the other two. Luckily for me (and him) I was diagnosed with epilepsy and had to take a step back from my “busy” life and rethink my priorities. My 3rd child is just now (10th grade) becoming a strong reader after much argument and pain from both of us. It’s far easier to just read to children (and then have them take over when they can) from birth than to teach a child to love reading in teen years. All this to say, I completely agree. As a parent, as an educated woman, as someone with experience in screwing up my kids and then trying to make it right. Thanks for your post.


      Welcome to my blog!
      Wow! That’s incredibly comprehensive feedback- and a ringing endorsement for teaching kids to read young!

      Thank you for reading, and commenting.


    Thank you for this post. It is quite sad to discover that this issue is not limited to Italy where nearly half of the whole population – yes… HALF of the WHOLE population, not just kids – is functionally illiterate…


      That’s awful. I guess this is a global problem.
      I hope this essay raised some awareness of the issue. Beyond that, I don’t know how to address it.


    I had no idea my peer couldn’t read. I am homeschooled and have been able to read since I was 5.


    After you read the my upcoming Sunday post I’ve been working so diligently on for some time, you’ll understand why your incredible post “Can’t Read…” captured my attention. Your story encapsulated much of my story. So many kids, like me, get pushed through, resulting only in getting through and getting by.
    Thanks for sharing your views on this matter. As a result of reading it, I don’t feel as alone.
    Please read my 1/18 Sunday blog (as yet untitled) about growing up with lousy reading skills. I’d love to hear your response.


    I just can’t imagine anyone not taking time to read to and with their children. My mother had 12 children, all biological for both my parents, and she read to us at night. We did not watch television. She READ to us! She knew what was important, and all 12 of her children grew up to be successful, contributing citizens.


    Wow, I appreciate your honesty. I hope your blog goes viral and more people get to read it! Thank you!


    Along the same lines – it is shocking how many older teenagers have not learnt their times tables.

    I tutor maths and English and the amount of 25 year olds that come for maths tuition who have never learnt their timestables is shocking!

    People, timestables are the key to unlocking pretty much everything in maths! Make yours and their lives easier by teaching them young, buy a poster, play a CD that sing them, whatever just find a way for your children to learn them! X

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. I Have To Get Paid to Write But I’ll Show My Tits For Free « A Buick in the Land of Lexus - February 25, 2016

    […] psyche. He had zero interest in both of my Freshly Pressed articles about the sad state of education in our country […]

When I see the orange light, I have a BLOGASM...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s