26 November 2018

Junior School Resource Centre

Reading for pleasure puts children ahead in the classroom

Last week I was reading with interest an article discussing the results of a longitudinal study in the UK of the positive benefits to children who read regularly. Whist this was not new information, it did provide evidence.

Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers, according to new research from the Institute of Education (IOE). The IOE study, which is believed to be the first to examine the effect of reading for pleasure on cognitive development over time, found that children who read for pleasure made more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of 10 and 16 than those who rarely read. (IOE 2013)

The researcher, Dr. Sullivan notes that reading for pleasure had the strongest effect on children's vocabulary development, but the impact on spelling and mathematics was still significant. "It may seem surprising that reading for pleasure would help to improve children's math's scores," she said. "But it is likely that strong reading ability will enable children to absorb and understand new information and affect their attainment in all subjects." For those interested here is the link to the full article; http://www.ioe.ac.uk/89938.html.

My observation is that reading for pleasure for many boys seems to decline from about Year 4, onwards. This aligns with a common age that parents stop reading to their children, as children have become independent readers - but are they comprehending what they read? I would urge all parents to build a small amount of time reading aloud with their sons each day or every second day. This may involve reading to your child just before bed, whilst waiting in the car for a sibling; reading aloud during dinner preparation (if boys are able to chop/stir etc as you read OR they could read to you); downloading audio books from the library to listen to on long car trips etc. It all adds up and is so valuable to your son. If you find the right books that you both enjoy, there is the added benefit of conversation around reactions to the characters and plot.

Happy Reading

Mrs Kathryn Salt

Junior School Teacher-Librarian