Silent reading can–and should–be a meaningful, rich, awesome experience for kids.
And parents can–and should–be able to support their young readers at home, just by keeping a few important things in mind.
Research shows that the more kids read, the better readers they become. It makes sense. So let’s give kids time. And let’s support them while they’re there.
Let’s give them time to practice the skills they’re learning in the classroom.
Let’s give them time to really dive into texts, walk beside the characters, really get to know an author’s style, or follow a series from start to finish.
Let’s give them time to try out different genres, subjects, and authors. Let’s provide our kids with time to relax, enjoy some ‘me-time’ and cozy up with a book.
Silent reading may have once been thrown to the wayside by the National Reading Panel (NRP, 2000), but, with a little guidance, teachers and parents can make silent–or independent–reading an integral part of the reading experience.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- How to Make Silent Reading More Meaningful: I recall vividly, a day about six years ago, while doing some consulting work for a local charter school in our area, sharing the latest research on silent reading: there was no conclusive data proving the value of silent reading in the classroom (NRP, 2000).
We can–and will–make silent reading totally rock the house.
And the teachers to whom I was speaking were in disbelief. Really? No SSR? You mean that giving kids quiet time to read in the classroom doesn’t help kids become better readers?
There is no current research to prove that, I said. Though we all know that people learn by doing, At this point, using precious class time in other ways will better support their literacy learning.
Though I shared what I had learned, I was always curious about it–I loved SSR as a kid. Didn’t we all? Didn’t all kids deserve time carved out especially for silent reading? I wondered: How could that time be used more effectively? How could we, as educators, prove the worth of independent reading? Could someone actually put real, true value on silent reading?
Check it out: How to Make Silent Reading More Meaningful. Recent research, however, does prove that “more reading leads to better reading” (Sanden 2012), but more specifically, more and more studies are placing real value on independent reading when implemented consciously.
Sherry Sanden is an educator and author who writes about highly effective teachers who have implemented silent reading programs in their classrooms–and these programs yield real student growth, learning, and tons of potential. Each program contains several of the same components, and Sanden shares her findings in an article in the November issue of The Reading Teacher.
I was particularly moved by her article because–woo-hoo! yaaa-hooo! yip, yip, yippppeeee! woot!–it provided that value to silent reading that I wish I would have had when speaking with those teachers. Yes, silent reading counts. Yes, it sure does.
All we have to do is beef it up a bit. Check it out: How to Make Silent Reading More Meaningful.
And the cool thing? A lot of what Sanden shares is what many of us do naturally to support our young readers. All the time? Nah. Every single time we see our kiddo grab a book and sit back to read? No way, Jose. Every so often? Yes, you better believe it.
What do you think? How do you make silent reading more meaningful at your house? Let me know–I’d love to hear it!
many thanks to the following references:
- “The Report of the National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read,” National Reading Panel. April 2000.
- Sanden, S. (2012). Independent Reading: Perspectives and Practices of Highly Effective Teachers. The Reading Teacher, 66 (3), 222–231. doi: 10.1002/TRTR.01120
- numerous other articles on the IRA site