Many of us can fondly recall reading for pleasure in our childhoods. I can remember being excited and looking forward to silent reading time in the classroom. However, recent studies have found a decline in the number of students reading for pleasure. With reading for pleasure linked to many academic benefits and overall achievement, a focus on promoting a reading culture in schools is more important than ever before.
School leadership plays an important role in establishing and fostering a reading culture. Without the support of principals and administrators, teachers can feel pressured to drop reading practices that support reading for pleasure in order to focus on increased curriculum demands and standardised testing. Often, independent student reading can be one of the first things to go. Unfortunately, a qualified school librarian is usually next with funding for the position at the discretion of the school leaders.
Where to from here? Educators need to take a stand and reclaim reading for pleasure in their schools and classrooms. A holistic approach to reading needs to be front and centre in every classroom. Fortunately, there are some simple and easy ways for every teacher to create a reading community in their class.
Reading for pleasure not only builds academic skills, it helps develop important personal attributes and life skills such as empathy, resilience, problem-solving and the ability to experience life through the perspective of others. Good stories can change a young person’s life. The right book at the right time can have a profound impact and many of us can remember a story that changed our perspective or helped us deal with a difficult time in our lives. Therefore, it is essential that educators foster and pass on this gift to the students in their care. We need to make reading for pleasure a priority in our classrooms rather than an optional extra. Our students deserve this.
Raising Readers by Megan Daley is a must read for all educators and parents. Great tips, ideas and booklists for raising readers in your life.
Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller shares the keys to cultivating life-long reading habits in your students.
Promotion of reading Pinterest board – I have curated a collection of useful articles with tips on how to create a reading culture in your school.
Pernille Ripp – an excellent blog from experienced teacher and author Pernille Ripp. Lots of useful articles on the importance and promotion of reading for pleasure.
500 Hats – a useful teacher-librarian blog by Barbara Braxton, with practical ideas, information and insights to support a culture of reading in your school.