PISA data shows that students who regularly read for pleasure are the most proficient readers. But U.S. students spend little time reading outside of the classroom: 57% of students report that they rarely or never read any printed material for enjoyment. Increasing the amount of time students spend reading for pleasure can be a quick win that helps improve reading results.
Successful schools encourage reading for pleasure by making books available to students, creating dedicated time for reading, and giving students some choice in their reading assignments.
Best Practices in Encouraging Reading for Pleasure:
1. Make books available for students, and create dedicated spaces at the school for reading. High performing schools make sure they have books on hand for students to read, and create dedicated spaces within the school where students can go to read. For example, one high school created a fiction bookroom for students, and added libraries in classrooms.
2. Create dedicated time for reading. Leading schools carve time out of the school day for independent reading. For example, one school developed a book club elective. Participating students chose a book they wanted to read, and spent classroom time discussing and analyzing what they read. Another leading school devotes one class period every few weeks for students to read a book or magazine of their own choosing.
3. Allow students to have a choice in what they read. For select reading assignments throughout the year, high performing schools allow students flexibility in what they choose to read. At one high school, students choose which book they will read for summer reading, rather than reading a book assigned by the teacher. Choosing their own reading materials encourages students to think broadly about available options and experiment with new types of texts.
4. Encourage students to share what they have read. High performing schools find creative ways for students to engage with books. Several schools organize book clubs for students to discuss what they have read with their peers. At one school, students create book blogs and animated book trailers as a fun way to share their favorite books.