Becoming a fluent reader depends upon more than an ability to “decode letters.” Knowing the sound/symbol relationships is, of course, essential to reading fluency, but so is possessing a fund of general knowledge.
In order to achieve a standard of literacy that goes beyond the ability to read young adult novels and how-to texts written at a fifth-grade level, readers must accumulate a store of information about world culture and the natural world.
Always remembering that a million boys and girls drop out of school every year, teachers must make every effort to equip all children with as much general knowledge as possible during grades K-8.
Improved literacy is just one effect of accumulating a body of general knowledge and information. Effective government and citizenship depend upon a population that shares a common fund of knowledge and attitudes toward the human condition.