It’s Official: Every Child Can Learn to Read

Bella Kahn- Jewish ConnectED



For children with intellectual disability, there’s new hope on the reading front.

New studies show that children with low IQ can learn to read on at least a first-grade level, if not higher.

When it comes to children with low IQ, it is generally the functional abilities that are focused on. That’s how it should be, after all. It is important to help these children obtain skills that will help them be as self sufficient as possible and functioning members of society.

Reading, however, is not a contradiction to that.

We’re not talking about perusing lengthy novels. When these children learn to read, it means they can read instructions and product labels. They can go grocery shopping and accomplish errands while following a list.

The above examples may seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But in reality, they can greatly improve a person’s ability to live independently and obtain improved job opportunities.

Many parents and educators of intellectually challenged children that have come across this new bit of research are less than impressed.

“Why, that’s old news,” says Ella G., “my daughter is easily on a 4th grade reading level. All that private tutoring sure pays off!”

E. Leibowitz, a special education expert who specializes in the Orthon Gillingham Method, concurs. “We’ve known this all along. With the right educational approach, direct instruction and a properly trained instructor, reading is an achievable goal for a majority of intellectually challenged children.”

Of course, they’re right. Devoted parents and educators are always one step ahead.

But even for them, this new research is good news. Since there is now an official study backing it up, we can expect expanded resources, improved programs and possibly better funding to help achieve the lofty goal of teaching these children to read.

Jill Allor of Southern Methodist University, who led the study, published in the journal Exceptional Children, says that the findings “prove we should never give up on anyone”.


Bella Kahn


Bella is the editor of and JewishConnectED’s biweekly newsletter. Bella has been writing since she was 7 years old and she hasn’t stopped. She can be reached at