For the Love of Reading: Independent Reading at School

  • Independent Reading Motivation
  • 01 April, 2018
  • 21 Comments

The last couple weeks I’ve clarified the definition of “independent reading” and explored the impact of kids doing required reading on their own at school.

Independence is obviously a gradient; the independence teachers often refer to isn’t about whether kids must read or not (it is usually required in these schemes), but it is about who picks the texts and whether there is any accountability for the reading. By “independent reading,” these teachers really are talking about self-selection of the texts.

Given the importance of literacy in our society it is essential that we teach students to read well. With regard to the learning impact of independent reading, the research findings are pretty commonsense: Kids learn something from practicing reading on their own, but they usually learn more when reading under teacher guidance. If kids really learned as much or more from reading on their own as they do from instruction, then we wouldn’t need teachers.

Many teachers say they devote valuable class time to independent reading not to make kids better readers, but to engender a love of reading. Let’s explore that idea.

Is “love of reading” a legitimate education goal?

Love of reading is kind of a slippery concept.

Some teachers, for instance, seem to advance “love” less as a goal, and more as a long-term strategy for improving reading achievement. Their reasoning is that if kids like reading, they’ll practice it more and this will boost learning (an idea shared by many parents, including those who aren’t big readers themselves).

There is a bit of a philosophical morass surrounding this goal, too. In a democratic society should public institutions, like schools, decide what it is that we should like? Centrally determining that everyone is to share our cultural tastes seems a bit authoritarian. If there is doubt that teachers are judging kids on some kind of “love of reading” continuum, I’d suggest reviewing many of the tweets over this issue in the past several weeks.

Not surprisingly no state has adopted “love of reading” as a public education goal (a couple have said kids should be doing independent reading, but with neither definition nor criteria for demonstrating compliance, suggesting their hearts may not have really been in this one).

If love of reading is an educational goal it is a decidedly personal one adopted by individual teachers, which is fine—but one would recommend caution about prioritizing personal ambitions over publicly agreed upon ones. When teachers say it doesn’t matter whether their approaches raise achievement because they are making kids love reading then things have gotten out of whack. Teaching kids to read well ultimately must trump a teacher’s personal desire to get kids to like what the teacher likes; in other words, feel free to try to get kids to enjoy reading as much as I do, but don’t do it at the kids’ learning expense.

My wife tells me teachers always want their students to “like” whatever they are teaching, and that makes sense to me, though it argues for at least an equal emphasis on making kids love science, math, history, literature, the arts, and so on (one admired colleague tells me he doesn’t want his kids to be passionate about reading, but about some subject that they can read about).

Does required self-selected reading at school lead to greater motivation or a lifelong love of reading?

Who knows?

Some proponents of independent reading argue that kids should have an abundance of texts to read, that they should have unfettered free choice as to what to read, and that this reading should not require accountability. Others reign these freedoms in a bit, limiting text choices or requiring that students talk to the teacher about what they’ve read.

The only one of these practices that anyone has bothered to study in terms of motivation or impact on outside of school reading is the sustained silent reading or drop everything and read model). Those studies have not been particularly positive in terms of motivation: in some cases, the self-selected reading times actually reduced kids’ actual independent reading. Not a surprising finding that: if you want kids to enjoy something, requiring them to do it by themselves and then showing no interest in what they are doing as required by SSR/DEAR is not especially inspiring.

But of those more recent practices like conferring one-on-one with kids about what they read, no one has even bothered to evaluate their impact. The assumption has been that since reading is good, any approach that encourages reading must be good too. But just because the goal is affirmative, does not mean the approach to it is necessarily effective.

When teachers tell me that they are having great success with free reading time and conferencing because their students are reading so much more than they used to, I ask “How much were they reading before and how much are they are reading now?” And the response is always the same: I don’t know how much they were reading before, but some parents tell me their kids are reading more.

In other words, they have no idea whether it is helping or not—or who it is helping—or whether they could do it more effectively… (Currently, anyone in education who dares question the effectiveness of these instructional practices is going to be treated as a bad person who must be shouted down; this discourages any kind of careful consideration of whether the favored practices are benefiting kids or not.)

Then we shouldn’t try to motivate kids to read?

No, I’m not saying that. I’m saying that the ways many teachers are trying to get kids to read are unlikely to be effective because they ignore important realities about learning and motivation.

Starting with the obvious: if kids are to love reading, then the better they can read, the greater the chance they’ll find something to read that would be enjoyable and that they could read with ease. Instructional practices that prioritize enjoyment over learning may be as stultifying as helpful. The oft cited statistic that better readers read more suggests that the most powerful enabler of love of reading is effective and efficient reading instruction.

When science or social studies educators try to make kids love their subjects, they seem to aim at improving their teaching practices in powerful ways rather than reducing the teaching (no one has advanced “free science time,” “drop everything and math,” or “social studies conferencing.” Of course, there are experts in reading education with proven records of improving kids’ motivation (John Guthrie), but his approaches don’t fit the Rousseauian philosophy that kids are best served when they receive the least teaching.

Also, it seems evident that you are not going to instill wide reading without the easy availability of texts. Programs that provide texts to kids—especially at home, especially for younger kids—tend to increase the amount of reading (Lindsay, 2010). That’s why classroom libraries, school libraries, and public libraries are so important. That’s why book-providing programs like First Book, Reach Out and Read, and Reading is Fundamental are so important. That’s why book mobiles and other efforts to raise the quantity and quality of books in communities are important.

Choice is important in motivation, too, so proponents of independent reading are definitely on to something there. Theories of motivation have long held that choice matters, and empirical studies show that one can stimulate both better motivation and better achievement through the wise orchestration of choice.

That doesn’t mean that such choice needs to be as wide open as it is in some classrooms. Guthrie and his colleagues set learning goals and raise inquiry questions and then allows kids to freely select the books that will allow them to pursue those questions (which creates a meaningful standard for evaluating the quality of student choices). In other cases, a teacher might have units of study that include a small set of carefully curated texts that students may select among. And, choice within a lesson does not always have to be about which text to read; in many cases, the teacher or curriculum would best determine that, but the kids still can choose the order of the reading, who to read with, how to report out the results of the reading, or even where in the room the reading is to be done. (Those choices are motivational, too.)

Social interactions around text are extremely important, hence my antipathy for approaches that just send kids away to read. Approaches like cooperative learning and “book clubs” where groups of kids work together with varying degrees of supervision to figure out common problems or to pursue socially-determined goals can be both effective in teaching and in arousing student interest and motivation. I think that is the reason for the one-on-one conferencing, a practice that I wouldn’t forbid (it definitely helps kids to make a social connection around reading with the teacher), but I would use it more sparingly because of the obvious efficiency problems inherent in it.

Psychologists have studied the importance of “stimulating tasks” in arousing interest, and I’d pay attention to that. For instance, in science kids might start with hands-on experiments and live observations which raise questions and interest, that then may be pursued through reading. In social studies or literature, the stimulating task might be a social problem that is examined or a video that is observed. This approach assumes that reading itself isn’t the attraction; reading gains its value by allowing us to pursue ideas of interest (thus, “I love dinosaurs so am interested in books about dinosaurs”, rather than “I love reading, so maybe I’ll read these books about dinosaurs”).

What I am saying is that instead of reducing the amount of reading instruction by sending kids off to read on their own—or instead of rendering reading instruction inefficient by conferring with each kid one-on-one about a different book—why not just try to make reading instruction itself more dynamic, interesting, valuable, and social?

But my kids live in poverty communities where they don’t read? What about them?

I object to and disagree with the premise both on personal experience and from studies like those of Denny Taylor’s (“family literacy”). That said, there is no question that in poverty communities, families are less likely to have books available and parent education levels reduce the likelihood that reading will take place frequently in those neighborhoods.

Free reading time at school is not likely to make such kids into lifelong readers. The reason I say that is the problem of transfer. Kids will definitely read when a teacher requires it in class. But when they go home the circumstances are often so different that they are not likely to transfer the behavior across conditions. Pleasure reading becomes something that one does at school not in life.

Instead of writing the community off, why not reach out to parents themselves (Willingham, 2015)? I’ve run successful parent education programs that increased the amount of reading activity in immigrant homes (Project FLAME), other researchers have created programs that pose reading challenges that involve parents in their kids’ out-of-school reading (Colgate, Ginns, & Bagnall, 2017), there are summer reading programs that have had success (e.g., Kim, Allington, McGill-Frantzen). I know of teachers in the Chicago area who do things like have book discussions with kids at lunchtime or who run father-son book clubs outside of the school day.

If you want kids to read beyond the school day, having kids read on their own at school is not the surest way to success.

Requiring kids to read on their own—even if you call it independent reading—is not likely to make kids into lifelong readers. Certainly, some of the practices engaged in by teachers who are going down this road make sense (increased book availability, choice, social connections with teachers), but for the most part their effectiveness and costs (to learning) are unknown. Hedge your bets… make effective instruction motivational instead of assuming that if it’s not instruction then kids will like it. Adopt practices that encourage kids to read on their own—even when you are not requiring it.

Comments

See what others have to say about this topic.

Jessie C
Apr 02, 2018 01:56 AM

We all know how important it is for students to develop literacy skills. Low literacy performance in the early grades is linked to many negative consequences—some as extreme as prison for students later in life. Many teachers try to prevent these negative consequences by instilling a “love for reading” in each student. I like how Shanahan questions the legitimacy of making it a goal for a student to “love” reading. He states that it is a bit authoritarian for schools to try to force all students to have the same cultural tastes regarding reading. He states that it is fine for teachers to make it a personal goal for all students to enjoy reading, but that they should not put this goal above teaching the state selected important standards. I agree and disagree with this at the same time. I agree because I think it is very important for teachers to teach literacy skills to students regardless of how enjoyable it is for students to partake in literacy lessons. I also disagree because I think that without a love for literacy, students will never advance their reading level beyond the bare minimum it takes to just get by. I know from experience that many students get by in school without really reading assigned text. Instilling a love for reading in students by helping them to find a type of literacy that they enjoy will help students to be life-long learners.

Timothy Shanahan
Apr 02, 2018 02:57 AM

Jessie— do you know any accomplished adults who don’t read much... i do... people vary in what they like and how they like to spend their time. Maybe they’d be happier and even more accomplished if they spent less time working, taking care if spouses, parents, kids, etc. and devoted that time to reading, but I’d leave those decisions to them. Kids can become more than solid readers even when they don’t love it or don’t choose to spend lots of time doing it... that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take every opportunity to make your lessons motivational and engaging.

Christine
Apr 02, 2018 01:36 PM

What is your opinion of home reading logs? Many elementary teachers require 15-20 minutes of reading each night and parents are required to sign the log and return it to school each Friday. Is there any benefit at all to this type of "accountability"?

Laura Wallin
Apr 02, 2018 02:46 PM

Thank you for thought provoking article on independent reading in the classroom. I am a Literacy Coach, with 23 years of classroom experience. I have run my share of SSR/DEAR time, and independent reading with logs and discussion. I was always providing reading instruction with well intentions. However, I always felt that this time was contrived, and that those students with the best reading skills were the ones who loved this time, and made good use of it. My lower skilled readers, and even my on level readers did not use this time to read. It was a free period of time, without instruction and direction other than, "You should be reading!" Toward the end of my classroom teacher experience, I stopped this practice, and was comfortable with my decision. As a Literacy Coach, I will use your article as some thinking points for those teachers who feel that this practice is beneficial to reading instruction.

Johnny Anderson
Apr 02, 2018 02:58 PM

Your discussion of “love of reading” as an educational concept intrigued me. How sensible is it really to try to standardize the “love” of something as an educational goal? It seems almost culturally blind to demand that students adhere to values we as institutions decide are important. It is the shift from implicit values to explicit values that is concerning. What are we implicitly de-valuing so we can explicitly value the “love” of reading? As you say, “In a democratic society should public institutions, like schools, decide what it is that we should like?” I tend to share your concerns. This a very slippery slope indeed. It is also a very vague, unquantifiable, and impossible to measure goal. Not that I do not love reading or want to see the love of reading embraced by students, but I am not sure if it needs to be an institutionally rationalized and defined concept of our curriculum goals. Those are better left connected to skills, abilities, enduring understandings, and content material…not vague sentiment and hazy value systems. I think the desire truly comes form a good place: to encourage more independent reading in students by encouraging them to engage in the practice more regularly. But I feel there have to be better ways to analyze this as an achievable goal than through the “love of reading.”

Lisa Regan DeRoss
Apr 02, 2018 03:40 PM

You must have been reading my mind with this post, Dr. Shanahan. When you wrote, "...no one has advanced 'free science time,' 'drop everything and math,' or 'social studies conferencing,' I was immediately taken back to the last PD my district put together for principals on building a "mindset" for math among underperforming students. Yet, the workshop was completely devoid of math content and pedagogy! To claim that the practices that skilled readers (or mathematicians, scientists, or social scientists) use were learned without skilled, intentional, and explicit instruction is completely without merit or evidence. The best thing we can do for children living in poverty, those underachieving in any subject, or those with academic risk factors would be to increase the use and frequency of instruction using research-based methods -- particularly in the areas of reading fluency and comprehension. Since, as you posit, these are not necessarily the home literacy practices, it is essential that teachers maximize instructional time through expert modeling, guided practice, and coaching/intervening with students who are struggling.

Harriett Janetos
Apr 02, 2018 05:19 PM

The question about the "accountability" built into home reading logs is an excellent one. Like most teachers, I know that having parents sign off on a child's indepenent reading usually doesn't signify that the reading took place in any kind of meaningful way. However, as a reading specialist working with struggling readers, I know how important it is for my first and second graders to practice reading out loud to someone. So this year, for the first time, I have sent home the phonics readers from our very old basal program, each of which has 7-9 stories (which the kids actually like) for students to practice their reading. I do send home a log for the student's "print partner" to sign--but the accountability isn't in the signature, it's in having the child, when they have achieved fluency (regardless of how long that takes), choose one story to read out loud to the group and having me choose another--at random--to read. I have long known that I can teach reading skills to help students "crack the code" but without practice, students won't progress. And this has been confirmed this year. Unsurprisingly, the students who have made the most progress are the ones who are doing the the most practice. There are 10 of these books at the first grade level, and six at the second. Students can pick a prize after mastering a book and then a bigger prize after completing the series. Getting someone at home to participate in improving reading has been the missing link in my program, and I'm thrilled to have this home-school connection.

Timothy Shanahan
Apr 03, 2018 01:32 AM

Christine— with regard to home reading logs... there is no research on this practice, so I can only give an opinion. Some teachers swear by them and others feel like it is a waste of time (parents that I know seem equally divided). I do like that it is an effort to push reading beyond school. I’d suggest that you try the practice with parents for a certain amount of time and then talk to parents or survey them to see if it is helping or annoying and go from there. I think if on parents night you had a heart to heart with the parents and provided them some guidance about supporting their child’s reading, you might not need the logs.

Alexis Halkyard
Apr 03, 2018 04:12 PM

Until reading this blog post, I had always thought of independent reading as a positive reading strategy. However, Shanahan made some very valid points about the ineffectiveness of independent reading that have changed my perception of this strategy. I was one of those teachers that had always interpreted independent reading as a time for students to read self-selected texts. I thought that by allowing students to choose their own reading material they would be more interested in the idea of reading. My perception of independent reading was not entirely wrong it was just not effective. Choice is an important factor in increasing a child’s motivation; however, it is not the only factor in increasing a child’s motivation to read. Shanahan explains the importance of the availability of texts, choice, setting learning goals, and social interactions when it comes to making kids into lifelong readers. Furthermore, if we want our students to read across all environments, we cannot limit reading to just the classroom. Shanahan states, “If you want kids to read beyond the school day, having kids read on their own at school is not the surest way to success.” As teachers, we must utilize cooperative learning strategies within our classrooms. We must also offer and encourage our students get involved in outside reading programs, book clubs, book discussions, etc. In the end, I have learned that in order to have my student love reading and become lifelong readers; I must incorporate motivational practices into my instruction.

Sam Bommarito
Apr 03, 2018 06:20 PM

You said: "Choice is important in motivation, too, so proponents of independent reading are definitely on to something there. Theories of motivation have long held that choice matters, and empirical studies show that one can stimulate both better motivation and better achievement through the wise orchestration of choice." I'm always on the look out for common ground in the thinking of literacy leaders with varying points of view. This is one idea for which I think there might be widespread agreement across a wide spectrum of views. Definitely merits further exploration. About getting love of reading into national/state standards- what would you think of using the indirect measure of amount of reading as a way to measure that? I think increasing the amount of independent reading could become a workable goal (of course you may have a better/more precise term for the independent descriptor). Looking forward to your reply!

Timothy Shanahan
Apr 04, 2018 02:56 PM

Sam—
I love baseball and ballet, but would oppose any state mandates that everyone else was required to love those, too. In a democratic society we do not require people to have the same tastes in their pursuit of happiness. I don’t think states should mandate love of reading and when teachers demand it, it makes me squeamish.

Tim

Lewis
Apr 05, 2018 05:28 PM

I think that getting students to at least enjoy reading independently is the goal of most reading or language arts teachers. While personally love reading, I know that it is not as thrilling for others. This can be the case when students are not provided with engaging materials or struggle with reading. I think that engaging students and making them interested is a better goal than trying to get all students to love reading. I completely agree that while students should be able to self select and read independently, but that the whole process should not be independent of teacher engagement. Conferences are a good way to find out if the student is comprehending and enjoying the materials they are reading. At this point, weather they are enjoying it or not, the teacher may be able to make recommendations or pair up students to chat about the similarities and differences in the books that they are reading. I think after doing that for some time you can decide if the students really are reading more and benefiting from this independent reading time. Once you have made this assessment, you can decide what is working and what is not working in your classroom.

Kayce T
Apr 06, 2018 12:09 AM

I will have to admit when I first started reading this I crossed my arms and thought, I do not agree, but I am glad that I kept reading. I have a book choice time in my 1st grade classroom. For my kids I have a book box they can choose from of books that are appropriate independent reading level for them, and I have conferences with each student on their book at some point in the week, as well as, have them read a page or two to me before they choose a new book. My students always love this time and being allowed to choose the books they want for the week.
This blog post challenged my thoughts behind a focus on building a love for reading vs reading instruction to build good readers. I still am very passionate about building a love for reading in my students, but it is important to remember my passion might not be every child’s passion or strength. I really appreciated that the post discussed the importance of finding what a child is interested in and then providing them with reading material on that subject. A child should make the connection with the true value in learning to read, which is that it helps one to attain more knowledge about topics they want to learn more about through text or literature. I also took away from the statement, “Social interactions around text are extremely important, hence my antipathy for approaches that just send kids away to read.” I find myself now wanting to use this time in my classroom for kids to read books of choice around topics they want to research, and creating projects together as groups with the information they learn.

Kelsey Hester
Apr 06, 2018 02:16 PM

I am inspired by your decision to address such a controversial issue; an issue that discusses a practice that is often used in schools, but no one is really sure why. I have seen DEAR work very well in a high poverty, Title One school in a first-grade classroom. However, this classroom was made up of students who were very highly intrinsically motivated by reading. In a classroom of students who have not learned the value of literacy or simply don’t yet feel comfortable with it, I’m sure this program’s success would not have been the case. In my opinion, I feel that a teacher really has to know their students in order to determine if this would be a viable option in their classroom. I also think there should be a choice and goal system set up, where students can choose to read independently, work on literacy tasks, or read to a peer during the same amount of time that one would engage in a program like DEAR. A teacher could set up a highly motivating goal system based on the students’ choices. For example, if a student enjoys reading to their peers, the teacher could conference with the student and help them set a goal of how many students they would like to read to in a week or month. Students could then graph their progress, simultaneously tying in math objectives. A careful evaluation of what works best in individual classrooms full of individual students would be most meaningful in determining if independent reading would be effective.

Donna
Apr 06, 2018 03:32 PM

I am going out on a limb here. As a reading teacher for over thirty years, I used to think it was essential to foster a love of reading in all students. My beliefs were that all kids had to love reading in order to be part of the "literacy club." However, my beliefs have shifted a little, and what shifted them was a change in my own life. That change had to do with becoming a mom.
My first born child was bright, and fortunately she became an efficient reader, always scoring well on both her district and state level reading assessments. But much to my dismay, she didn't love it, and it became a source of tension between us. I tried incentives, consequences, you name it, but it just wasn't her first love.
My efficient reader loved math, and is currently excelling in physics in college. She is passionate about her field, and she reads just fine as a young adult.
Does this mean I don't give kids choice in what they read in school or take away independent reading time? Of course not. I would love to create a love for reading in all kids. But what I now understand is that as humans, we do have different passions and interests, and they should be celebrated. I don't think Einstein loved reading, but he sure found something he loved that he could read about!

Harriett Janetos
Apr 06, 2018 11:18 PM

Anyone wondering whether instilling a "love of reading" is a good use of teaching time should read Bryan Caplan's The Case Against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money.

Jen Jakobi
Apr 07, 2018 11:08 PM

A very well written and thought provoking blog. Thank you!

I am a literacy coordinator at a government primary school in Australia and I have 21 years teaching experience.

Teach children the skills to read, scaffold them along the road to success and when they are interested in the content (eg. dinosaurs) and find that dinosaur book, they will devour it! They (and I) love reading content rather than words. I will only read words that interest me, not words because they are there...so do I love reading or not? I would say I don't love reading but I love learning and experiencing through reading! I will stop reading a book that does not interest me because of the content, not because I dislike those particular words!

Teachers should invest the precious time into teaching the complex process of reading rather than allocating time to "reading" (which is often looking/ daydreaming /pretending to read) and empower students to achieve success when they want to read the book for the content rather than the process.

Thanks again!

Anna Mitchell
Apr 08, 2018 12:21 AM

I really enjoyed reading this blog about the "love of reading" idea that teachers try to instill in their students. As a teacher and a graduate student, I have to admit I do not consider myself to have a love of reading. I read because I need to for my job and my schooling but I rarely read for pleasure. I have read some book series that have interested me in the past but that was before I had kids. I now have a toddler and if I find a free minute, I do not choose to read a book. That may sound bad but I feel you don't have to have a love of reading in order to be successful in school or life. When I was in school, I always found the most enjoyable reading techniques were when we did reading groups or reading projects. I am sure book reports are old school but I had a teacher that gave us a list of projects we could do including make something, put on a play, make a tv commercial, write a song, etc. To this day, I remember the books and projects I did. It made it interested and it got us to read a wide variety of books. I read a book on how to make gum and actually made my own gum and brought it in. When I was older, one teacher did reading circles so we got into groups and picked a book and read it through out the course and discussed it during class time. I feel the teachers role is not to make kids 'love' reading but just make reading fun. Reading seems boring to many kids and when teachers make it fun, kids will read more and by that become better readers. The goal for all teachers should be to make better readers, more fluent readers, readers who can comprehend.

T. Corbin
Apr 08, 2018 03:31 PM

Independent reading is definitely a topic that strikes many people. In my personal opinion, it is one of the most important aspects of child literacy. A child's ability to read on their own and without heavy assistance is a huge success and achievement for them to accomplish. Our goal as educators is to make children fall in love with reading again. However, their love of reading does not just bloom in an instant. It needs to be planted appropriately by the teacher. As a teacher, we should give reading materials that interest our students and make them want to read. Giving them age and content appropriate reading can help them want to read for fun. All people like different things, so our students are very similar. We should give them books that they like and that they will read.
There is a quote that says, "is the 'love of reading' a legitimate education goal?" This quote stands out to me because I've never considered reading that way. I love reading, so naturally, I expect all of my students to love reading and to want to read with me. However, if you think about it, this is not a true goal for my class. I will do everything in my power to motivate them to read and give them all of the tools to want to love reading, but sometimes there are people who do not want to read. I can present reading as a fun hobby, but my own love of reading cannot be what I expect from all of my students. Everyone is different, so we as teachers must adapt to different wants and needs by our students.

Ashley Owings
Apr 09, 2018 12:06 AM

While I agree that teacher lead instruction has a greater outcome than independent reading, I also think that independent reading, when done correctly can be a time to practice fluency and comprehension. As a third grade teacher, I do one hour of small group reading rotations every day. Seeing as I can only work with 5-6 students at a time, I must find meaningful activities for the other students to do. One of these activities is independent reading. I realized very quickly that without an accountability piece, students took this as a time to play or pretend to read. Therefore every time they are at a read to self center, they are give a choice board of writing prompts, all of which ask them to reflect on what they read. I do not give them these tasks in order to instill a love of reading, however like Jessie mentioned, I do believe that a love of reading is an essential part of literacy development. I have students who participate in literacy lessons who obviously hate reading, compared to those students who enjoy reading, they do not get as much out of the lesson. From my experience, these students who do not enjoy reading are less likely to delve into a literary piece more deeply than their peers who enjoy reading. They are also less likely to pick up a book that challenges them in the slightest. I think that independent reading, while it may have its down sides, is an effective tool inside the classroom.

Sam Bommarito
Apr 10, 2018 02:44 PM

Point taken from your baseball analogy- I do need to rethink what would help get students be interested in enough in reading to become lifelong readers. One thing that could help tremendously is to have a balance of instruction i.e. include BOTH decoding and comprehension instruction in adopted programs. Research is not kind to programs that focus solely (or mainly) on decoding/phonics. In the history of reading, every time we've gone down that path we've found it to be a dead end. However add a comprehension component and then the decoding/phonics instruction does make a highly significant difference. My thought here is that meaningful upper level discussions/activities about what is read as part of the comprehension component would help draw students into the reading process. This would help to create lifelong readers. I think focusing solely (or mainly) on phonics unintentionally creates "word callers" instead of readers. I've had years of direct experience with such situations. I remain steadfast in my belief that the creation of lifelong readers should be an important goal of every reading program. Would love to hear your reactions. Thanks for listening!

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For the Love of Reading: Independent Reading at School

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