What research tells us about reading

What can we learn about reading from all the research that has been done over the years? Carol Gordon from Rutgers University offers many ideas.

Three students practicing different activities--reading being one.
 

  • Students become better readers by reading (just like swimmers become better swimmers by swimming or pianists become better piano players by practicing). The more they read, the better they read.
  • Choice among genres and media encourages reading. Restricting reading to books only is too restricting when comic books, graphic novels, magazines, web sites, blogs, emails, chat rooms, text messaging and apps tempt students. Students will read more when they are free to choose what they want to read.
  • Teaching students how to read (once they know the basics) is often no more helpful than letting students read and read and read. If they are motivated to read, they will figure out how to do it better.
  • Students read when reading materials are easily accessible. No books in the bedroom? Is it any wonder the student doesn’t read? Piles of library books next to the bed? Of course, the student will read.
  • Summer reading programs maintain or increase reading skills. Research shows that poor children lose two months or more of reading skills if they don’t read during the summer. Better off families, meanwhile, enroll their kids in library programs or hire a summer tutor, so their children’s reading scores improve during the summer.
  • Blogs, apps, reading groups, reading buddies, student reviews and other means of making reading a social experience encourage reading.
  • The best motivator is the enjoyment or satisfaction that a student gets from reading. If a student needs an outside motivator, connect that motivator to reading—rewarding with a new comic book, for example.

For more information, go to School Library Journal, November 2010.

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