Reading is a creative process in which the reader constructs meaning by interacting with a text. The process is an interactive one—between the words on the page and the reader’s imagination. It usually requires visual and listening skills as well as experiences with books and the world described in books. Reading presents a greater challenge to some students, a few because of sensory impairments that affect their vision or hearing, but most because they have not had the experiences with books, in school or outside it, that adequately support their participation in the reading process. Students who are learning English as a second language also may encounter difficulties. Paraprofessional educators often work with students who experience challenges in learning to read. They may supervise one-on-one or small group reading activities in keeping with the students’ needs and interests as determined by the instructional team.
The diagram to the right shows the many conditions that must line up in order to support students’ efforts to learn to read. With all of these conditions playing a role in the learning process, it’s easy to see why challenges arise for so many students.