Want to empower your students to become lifelong readers? Provide them with an independent reading library. A school or classroom library consisting of various authentic literature at an appropriate reading level serves as a foundation for students’ independent reading and reading development. Additionally, studies have determined that there’s a correlation between time spent reading and reading achievement. The National Reading Panel suggests that “the more that children read, the better their fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.” What are the research-backed benefits of independent reading, and how can you instill that habit in your students?
Independent Reading Definition
What is independent reading? Independent reading can simply be defined as “the reading students choose to do on their own.” Students choose to read materials they want to read for pleasure or to gain information about a particular topic.
Why Independent Reading Is Important
Independent reading improves comprehension for students and helps them develop their vocabulary. Also, silent independent reading can improve fluency by allowing students regular time to practice reading. Finally, independent reading exposes students to background knowledge of a range of important cultural and historical events.
Research on Independent Reading
There are various research-demonstrated benefits of independent libraries within classrooms and schools. Evidence shows that an independent library can:
- Increase reading achievement: the more high-quality, engaging books children have to read, the more likely they’ll read more and become better readers.
- Provide ready access to books: rather than requiring students to borrow their own books or depending on children to have books in their homes, libraries within classrooms provide students’ access to a range of literature.
- Allow for autonomy: students choosing the literature they want to read from independent classroom libraries helps them exercise control in their reading lives, which is, according to one teacher and author, “one step in making them lifelong readers and lifelong learners and a major stride toward helping them take control of their lives.”
- Increase engagement and motivation: students reading for interest drives how much they read, elevating their reading achievement.
- Reduce summer reading loss: providing books to students to read over the summer is one way to combat summer reading loss.
- Prevent diminished reading habits at the secondary level: if middle school students and beyond have easy access to a wide range of interesting texts and time to read, they’ll improve the reading comprehension skills they need to keep up with the increasing literacy demands of college and the workplace.
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