Reading: The key to true learning | Inquirer Opinion
The Learning curve

Reading: The key to true learning

As if this was something we did not know all along.

It does not surprise me that the 2019 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) results exposed how deficient our students are in reading and math skills. It was an admirable act of courage that the Philippines finally subjected itself to such a rigid review. It was sensible for the Philippine Business for Education to say in its official statement that it is not the time for finger-pointing, but a time to work on concrete measures to improve on those basic weak areas.


I have always maintained that what is basic to academic success is the ability to read and to comprehend. And what a boon to students if we teachers are able to nurture a love of reading and of learning. Is instilling such a lifelong love near-impossible?

It is never too late to start from the very beginning. A new book, “Teaching Beginning Literacy” by Dr. Felicitas E. Pado


(Anvil, 2020), precisely refers to the teaching of reading as going beyond word recognition. Pado espouses a four-pronged approach to true reading instruction, all four components essential: a genuine love for reading, critical thinking, grammar and oral language development, and the transfer stage or exploring more sophisticated reading materials. Try this approach with these children’s titles:

“Ang Alamat ni Niña Gigantes,” written and illustrated by Patricia Ramos, translated to Filipino by Juan Miguel Ala-Tolentino, Adarna, 2019. Niña Gigantes is the main character’s well-deserved name because of her extraordinary height, a physical advantage used to fight a mighty typhoon.

“Awtor Ako! Malikhaing Pagsulat, Malikhaing Kabataan” by Eugene Y. Evasco,

Kahel Press, 2019. A much needed how-to book for budding writers, both young and old, and a handy handbook for teachers with many suggested writing exercises.

“Bayan ng Basura” by Augie Rivera, illustrated by Jill Arteche, Adarna, 2019. Pawikan lives in a place that is “maaliwalas, malinis, masagana” but suddenly finds himself in a place littered with trash.

“Catch a Falling Star” by Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, Anvil, 2019. First published in 1999, this is a collection attesting to the continuing relevance of stories of a teenage girl growing into young adulthood.

“Duck and Croc Cannot Swim,” written and illustrated by Robert Magnuson, Anvil, 2018. The adventures of Little Duck, age 2, Croc, age 4, and a fish bully, age 9, who find themselves in Monster Lake which prohibits nonswimmers. Aye, there’s the rub.


“El Filibusterismo” by Dr. Jose P. Rizal, written by Grace R. Miranda, design and illustration by Crisostomo+Giron, Anvil 2019. A companion volume to the “Noli,” now both graphic novels.

“Esther and the Extraordinary Deliverer,” retold by Lauren V. Macaraeg, illustrated by Abi Goy, Hiyas, 2019. The story of Queen Esther from the Old Testament, retold in the Wow God! Series.

“Good Morning, Manila” by Yvette Fernandez, illustrated by Nicole Lim, Anvil, 2020. Images of trees, birds, butterflies, white clouds, jeepneys—all pointing to a happy day ahead.

“Good Night, Manila!” by Yvette Fernandez, illustrated by Nicole Lim, Anvil, 2020. A charming companion book to “Good Morning, Manila” that captures the sounds, scents, images of Manila after the sun sets.

“Noli Me Tangere,” comics written by Leo Miranda and D.G. Dumaraos, illustration by Leonardo Giron, Anvil, 2019. A reader-friendly introduction to Rizal’s revolutionary novel.

“Tagalog Picture Dictionary” by Jan Tristan Arroyo Gaspi and Sining Maria Rosa Marfori, Tuttle, 2019. “Learn 1,500 Tagalog Words and Expressions” is the subtitle of this book, which has 39 categories from daily activities to talking about the weather to food. There are notes explaining the “How you spell it is how you say it” rule. Unfortunately, to date this book is only available via Amazon.

“Tuli o Di-Tuli” (Circumcised or Not) by Luis P. Gatmaitan, MD, illustrations by Manix Abrera, translated by Grace D. Chong, Hiyas, 2019. An informative fiction book about this rite of passage among boys. With a book on circumcision, can a book on menstruation be far behind?

Neni Sta. Romana Cruz ([email protected]) is a member of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.

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TAGS: 2019 Programme for International Student Assessment, Dr. Felicitas E. Pado, learning, Reading
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