Each school day, about 15 million public schoolchildren in kindergarten through third grade are working on their reading skills.
Teaching them is big business. Billions of dollars are spent every year on books and reading programs, a significant investment, with disappointing returns.
Nationwide, students are not meeting grade level expectations in reading. And more than 600,000 of the nation's students drop out of high school every year, some without ever having become strong readers.
The question is, how do we raise our nation's reading standards? The new view is that our kids read too much fiction and not enough about things like electricity, whales and the solar system.
Many believe Common Core State Standards, new guidelines for what students are expected to learn and what kinds of books they're expected to read, might be the answer. Financed with federal money, but developed outside of Washington, the Common Core has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.
We won't know for years where whether the new Common Core approach will produce more capable readers, but if this national experiment works, at the very least, our children should emerge knowing a whole lot more than they can learn from books like "Curious George" and "Clifford."
"If we're serious about building an economy that lasts, we have got to get serious about education. We are going to have to pick up our games and raise our standards," Mr. Obama.
1. Growing up, what were some of your favorite fiction books?
2. Do you think these fiction books made you a stronger reader? Why or why not?
3. What are educational standards?
4. Why do we need educational standards?
1. What is the Common Core State Standards Initiative?
2. Do you think the Common Core State Standards Initiative is important? Why or why not?
3. Do you think Common Core Standards will improve reading skills? Why or why not?