Friday, March 28, 2014

The Value of Independent Reading

How important is it that we build in time for independent reading in our workshop schedule?  Do we consistently keep it as one of the most important elements of our reading workshop?  Or, is it one of the first things to go when the schedule tightens up?

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the Dublin Literacy Conference.  This conference is an annual conference the school district hosts, and the purpose of the conference is for people to engage meaningfully in sessions surrounding literacy, in order to gain more knowledge about reading and writing instruction.  The keynote speakers are always wonderful, and the session presenters are informative and practical with their thoughts on ways to engage our students in the literacy world.  This year, we were able to hear Penny Kittle speak.  She's the author of Book Love.  She showed a graphic during her presentation, which indicated number of minutes that students read per year, and compared it to the number of estimated words read per year, and how that translated to a percentile rank on a standardized test score.  

The results were astounding....

On the graphic, there was a column listing the total number of words that students read per year if they were to read 90 minutes a day, for example.  Over the course of a year, that results to over four million words read per year.  If students only read for one minute a day, their total words read for the year is estimated at only 51,000 words per year.  And the percentile rank in standardized scores shows such a huge gap:  from 98% (reading 90 minutes a day) to 10% (reading 1 minute per day). That is absolutely eye-opening.

But are most educators seeing the value in independent reading?  Are they truly building in time for reading within their workshop schedule, consistently?  Though I also expect students to read at home, I don't always know if that is taking place. So, I MUST build that into my workshop schedule.  

I can't help but continue to ponder the information in this graphic, and be so glad that I honor independent reading in my classroom as a non-negotiable.


  1. I've always heard wonderful things about the Dublin Literacy Conference. I saw that graphic this past week and saved it . . . somewhere. Now if I can just find it, I'll have it to share with parents. I heard Penny Kittle last year, great presenter.

  2. Independent reading is a non-negotiable for me. It always makes me sad when my former students come to me and tell me that they don't get time to read in fifth grade.