Should teachers set aside time during the school day for kids to read for pleasure?
Should schools do more to encourage kids to become recreational readers?
Will there be enough of a payoff for our education system even if it means less time spent on other things?
The answer to all these questions is most certainly yes.
Reading for pleasure, recreational reading, free voluntary reading, personal reading– whatever you want to call it– is built upon the intrinsic goal of reading because it directly benefits the reader: Reading for the sake of reading. Yet there are myriad indirect benefits that come from recreational reading, many of which lead to profoundly positive educational outcomes.
A teacher should care that a student reads for pleasure, because reading brings pleasure to the student! However, more than that, a teacher can also point to so many other benefits that come from recreational reading that will pay off in terms of academic achievement, social learning and character education.
If teachers (or parents, or administrators) are worried that the kids are missing out on valuable educational lessons, please remember this: Students who read more for pleasure will do better in school. Recreational reading has many, many indirect educational benefits to students. Students who do more recreational reading will see improvements in vocabulary, writing skills, grammar, spelling, comprehension, critical thinking, concentration and so many other skills that are essential to one’s overall education.
Moreover, students who read more for pleasure will grow in social and emotional learning, as students can share in the experiences of different people, growing in empathy and understanding for people all backgrounds, ages, genders, orientations, beliefs and cultures.
As if those weren’t enough reasons for reading, here are some more. Reading books can help mitigate against the harmful effects of too much time spent on phones and in front of other screens. One simple and yet important example of this is that studies show that people who read from books or magazines before bed will sleep better than those who are looking at screens before trying to fall asleep.
There are so many reasons to read.
Schools need to do more to encourage kids to read for reading’s sake. In doing so, the school will reap the rewards of having kids who do better in school.
October is International School Library Month
and Canadian Library Month.