Teaching the love of reading is essential. If you have a program that teaches kids how to choose books, gives them ample books to choose from, and allows them to discuss the books with others and demonstrate their learning, you will be very satisfied with the results.
I think that in order to foster a love of reading you are going to have to start in the early elementary grades. If they have not developed a love for reading by the time they reach middle school I think it is too late for most students. As far as a reading program I think something in the middle school and high school to help those struggling readers at those levels is important.
At my school, we have a reading lab class. We also have a literary club. Both foster different purposes.
The reading lab serves as an avenue for students who have missed something in terms of development along the way. I have even seen research studies that demonstrate students who never crawled but went straight to walking somehow struggle with reading. Thus, it doesn't always need to be about the problems they had at school when they were young or the fact that a parent never encouraged words. In our school, this is an interactive class with computer generated lessons as well as instructor-led lessons. The instructor uses rewards and our school has kept these classes very small so these students receive the help they need.
Once these students build confidence, reading in the mainstream classroom is almost cool. It feels good to these guys to get to talk about what they read and how they interpreted something.
Our literary club is one of our fastest growing and most well-attended groups. I think the onslaught of movies that have come out based on books (Harry Potters and the Twilights) have actually reignited an interest in reading. Both of these authors have their acclaim because of their great attention to character development. I find students losing themselves in text and feeling they are actually in the book!!!
It really only takes one book to create a reader. Helping students find the right type of writer and the right level and the right subject has created a voracious reading body at our school.
Well, reading programs can vary greatly from school to school in both purpose and placement, and can mean anything from what and how you teach reading in a classroom, to a specified remediation program designed to "catch students up" to an expected reading level in a shorter time. I'll assume you mean the latter.
The advantage, especially in the younger elementary years, is that you are targeting the specific students that need help, and hopefully are aiding them in developing reading skills that will be used in every other content academic course for the rest of their school years. The younger they are reading at grade level and beyond, the stronger the learning retention in reading and every other subject.
To foster a love of reading, there has to be some reading which is purely fun, or stimulates the imagination, or is at least associated with fun and exciting things. We can't forget that our students are not just test scores, but they are kids with normal motivations. The more fun reading is when they are young, the more successful they will be as readers and learners in life.
There are many benefits to having a reading program at our school. the first is that students feel better about finishing their reading assignments on time and feel more in control of their textbooks. Our school focuses on many aspects of the reading process such as literacy, literary, and speed and comprehension.
These factors combined under the program's reading coaches and aligned with other teachers that students have, can build wonderful long-term enjoyment in reading, and not merely just another boring class on reading skills. A great reading program can be developed if it is inspiring, educational, and fun.