The latest State of Reading survey is out from Scholastic and the news is not good. Currently only 24% of school age boys read books for fun and only 14% of students ages 15-17 are reading books for entertainment. Reading for fun is down in all age groups except ages 6-8. And yes – the survey includes E-readers.
It’s an interesting look at the current state of reading in American homes and reflects what teachers instinctively know. Those children who spend more time with their nose in a game screen spend less time with their nose in a book. While computer time is not all bad, there is a significant correlation to heavy use of electronic devices and decreased reading time. And that’s tough news for teachers. We can control the amount of screen time our students receive at school, but how do we encourage reading at home?
Most parents want their children to read more. An overwhelming 75% of parents agreed that “I wish my child would read more books for fun.” And 71% of parents said “I wish my child would do more things that did not involve screen time.” So both teachers and parents are on the same page. (pun intended). We need to work together to find ways to increase recreational reading.
The following diagram from Scholastic may give us some clues as to how to promote reading at school and home.
As the chart shows free reading time in school actually promotes reading frequency. If children are given the opportunity to read a book of their choice in school it encourages them to become frequent or recreational readers. Allowing students reading time and coordinating with parents to follow through with this reading at home can help increase student reading frequency.
But to be successful we need to increase the coordination and communication between family families and classrooms. There are lots of different ways to do this from read aloud nights to school author visits, and book fairs. But it needs to be a coordinated effort. Perhaps as teachers we need to start the conversation by making your own survey. How much do your students read outside of school? What do your families do to encourage reading? And most important do they have ideas for how they would like to work with you and your school?
I challenge you to read the Scholastic survey and then make one of your own. How can you make a difference in the number of frequent readers you have in your classroom?