Nurturing a Love of Reading
It is important for parents and teachers to instill a love of reading. In her recent blog, “The House that Reading Built,” Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer, talks about the importance of nurturing a love of reading. Miller points to a twenty-year study at the University of Nevada, Reno, that reviewed the factors influencing the level of education a child will attain.
In the study, researchers found that children with access to 500 books achieved three more years of education than children without this access. This important study highlights the critical difference of being raised in a bookless home, compared to being raised in a home with access to books. In fact, having access to books at home can have as much impact on a student’s educational outcome as having parents that attended college (Miller, 2015). School libraries, staffed by certified teacher librarians, can play an instrumental role in providing access to books, by helping students and families easily connect with literacy tools and resources.
Through advances in technology, our students will likely need to read and write more than any other time in human history. Advanced literacy skills will be essential for students to find future success in the workplace, efficiently manage and maintain households, act as informed citizens, and conduct their personal lives. In a global economy linked by the internet, the ability to read can have a profound impact on economic status and opportunity. Poor reading skills are often associated with unemployment, lower wages, and fewer opportunities for advancement. For children living in poverty, the significance of being a successful reader and having access to books is even more critical. The table above illustrates the impact of poverty on school readiness and vocabulary development (Reading, 2015).
Inspiring and Motivating Children of all Ages to Read for Pleasure
According to the National Literacy Trust, there are four common themes that encourage a love of reading that builds lifetime readers:
- Choice – Children are more likely to read when their interests are taken into account, and they have control of how and what they read.
- Availability – Opportunities to read should be plentiful. Make books and reading visible at home and school; and, participate in school wide literacy programs in the school library.
- Safety, Support and Comfort – Safe and comfortable reading spaces encourage reading for pleasure. Create reading spaces at home, in the classroom, and the school library that encourage recreational reading.
- Creativity – Empower student agency and voice by allowing students to demonstrate what they have learned from the books they have read in creative ways. Book discussions and digital projects involving books can help students deepen comprehension and build on speaking, listening, and communication skills.
Children in Poverty are Less Likely to:
- Begin school with adequate early childhood literacy experiences like read alouds and vocabulary exposure.
- Attend schools with experienced, certified teachers and librarians.
- Attend schools with adequate school and classroom libraries.
- Live in neighborhoods with public libraries and bookstores.
- Own books at home.
Children in Poverty are More Likely to:
- Receive literacy instruction delivered through test prep, scripted programs, basal textbooks, and worksheets instead of authentic literature.
- Experience gaps in schooling because of unstable housing and unemployment.
- Drop out of high school with poor literacy skills.