According a new study just released from the Institute of Education, children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers. In summarizing the report’s findings, the IOE found that children who read for pleasure make more progress in math, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of 10 and 16 than those who rarely read.
The study is believed to be the first to examine the effect of reading for pleasure on cognitive development over time. Researchers compared the reading habits of about 6,000 students and made some interesting findings:
- “Reading for pleasure was found to be more important for children’s cognitive development between ages 10 and 16 than their parents’ level of education.”
- “Children who were read to regularly by their parents at age 5 performed better…than those who were not helped in this way.”
- “Reading for pleasure had the strongest effect on children’s vocabulary development, but the impact on spelling and math was still significant.”
- “It is likely that strong reading ability will enable children to absorb and understand new information and affect their attainment in all subjects.”
One of the leading researchers of the study, Dr. Alice Sullivan, hopes that the research will reinforce the value of reading for students at a time when it appears students are reading less. “New technologies, such as e-readers, can offer easy access to books and newspapers and it is important that government policies support and encourage children’s reading, particularly in their teenage years,” said Sullivan.
Encouraging reading is a goal many of us share and now there is data to show just how important a role it can play in the lives of our students. There are many sites on the web that can help teachers make reading a vital part of their students’ lives. Here are some that I use:
- Larry Ferlozzo’s Blog is full of amazing sites and lesson ideas as is his weekly Test Yourself column for English-Language Learners
- For great ideas about teaching, reading, and writing check out Chris Lehman’s blog
- The New York Times Learning Network is full of links to nonfiction articles from the Times along with great lesson ideas like this guide to creating student book lists
- The National Writing Project is loaded with resources about the art of teaching reading and writing
Which sites do you use? Feel free to add your favorites to the comment section below.