Why do teachers want students to read?
We all know that if you want to get good at a sport, you need to practice, right?
You can’t become a Wimbledon champion by playing tennis once a month at the local park. You’ll never win the world cup by kicking a ball around on a Sunday in your garden.
It’s the same with reading.
If you want to become a fluent and confident reader, you need to practice.
The more you practice, the easier it gets!
When you play sports, it isn’t just the sport at hand that you learn, but it’s a host of other skills. You learn teamwork and fair play rules. Sport exercises your body. It keeps you fit. It provides a safe social environment where new friends can be made. It gives you something to do and occupies your time in a constructive way.
It’s the same with reading! You don’t just learn to read, it helps you learn to write too.
You learn to be more creative and develop a far more interesting vocabulary, with adjectives and adverbs! It supports your creative writing by providing ideas from all the other stories you have read.
It keeps your mind active and exercises your brain. When reading, you are actually involved in the story, wondering what will happen next, Decoding words, understanding new words, unravelling plots and making inferences about the plot and characters.
It helps you relax and concentrate. In contrast to films, cartoons and TV, there are not flashing lights and music, it’s just you and your imagination.
It takes you to far-away places. Where ever and when ever a story is set, that’s where you go, whether it’s the Amazon rainforest or life as a prehistoric man.
It stops boredom. When we’re lost in a good book we don’t even notice the time.
It definitely makes school life easier because teachers constantly give students things to read in class.
“Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope.” ~Kofi Annan
The American Library Association has found a strong connection between regular independent reading and overall student performance. These findings include:
– Students who read independently become better readers, score higher on achievement tests in all subject areas, and have greater content knowledge than those who do not
– The more primary aged students read outside of school, the higher they scored on reading achievement tests
– Multiple studies support that even a small amount of independent reading increases primary students’ reading comprehension, vocabulary growth, spelling facility, understanding of grammar, and knowledge of the world
But why do students think reading is important, if they actually do? I asked my class to think about this and write down their thoughts on reading.
Here’s what they said:
In brief, their ideas were that by reading:
- we can write better
- we can speak better English
- we can learn new words
- we can study the meaning of new words
- we can spell correctly
- it helps us have more ideas for writing
- we can write more complex sentences
- we can write faster
- we can continue to learn English when we are not in school
- we can understand characters (people) better
- we can form sensible and correct sentences
- we can understand our level of reading
- it will help us in our future, to get better jobs
- it relaxes our minds
- to learn and know how to do more things
- to find middle schol and high school easier
- to improve our imagination
- to learn more information
When asked what they actually thought of reading, here’s what they said:
- reading relaxes me
- it takes me inside the story
- if the book is nice I like to read
- I don’t like reading very much until the book begins to get exciting
- sometimes, if I don’t have anything to do, I will read
- I don’t like reading because it’s boring
- reading adventure stories is interesting
- I don’t like ancient stories
- I love fantasy books because my imagination helps me
- I like reading because the character talks to me
- I don’t really like reading because sometimes the books are too long
- I like reading (especially Roald Dahl books) because it is beautiful to enter into adventures, and when I finish the book I am proud of myself.
- When I do it, I want to read a bit more.
- I like it but it’s not my favourite thing.
To sum up, the more we can encourage our children to read, the easier it becomes for them. The more we can encourage them to find pleasure in reading, the greater the benefits for their achievements over the curriculum, and far beyond, will be.
What will be the next book to capture your imagination?
Emma is the Primary School Coordinator for the English curriculum. She is the co-founding member of Acorn House along with Ms. Diena.