Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sustained Silent Reading

Bookivore has talked ad nauseum about the benefits of reading to your children. If you can't get enough of my harping, you can re-read it here, here and here.

But today I want to tell you about the natural partner of reading aloud, Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), and how it can help your children improve both their attitudes about reading and their reading ability.

SSR is a period of time between 10 and 30 minutes in which a child reads recreationally. There is no limitation placed on what he or she chooses to read, other than that it should be interesting to the child. If they want to read the newspaper, great. Magazine? Okay. Serialized Pokemon novels? Knock yourself out. Generally, of course, they're going to be reading books, and that's mainly what should be available, but other forms of text are fine. The only "rule" is that they do nothing but read to themselves for a sustained period (which at its minimum, isn't all that long).

What will SSR do for your kids? In a study on kids who were reading 2 years behind grade level, the children were divided into 2 groups: one group spent 10 weeks doing SSR, the other group spent 10 weeks using a basal reader (a book used to teach reading and reading skills). In other words, one group was being "taught" reading, while the other group was just reading. The result of the study was that the SSR group scored significantly higher in measures of reading and attitudes toward reading than the basal reader group (Holt and O'Tuel, 1988).

Similarly, The Condition of Education, 1997 reported that 9, 13, and 17-year old students who reported reading for fun at least once a week had higher average reading proficiency scores than those who reported never or hardly ever reading for fun.

The more you read, the better you get at it. Amazing!

So in the midst of your busy summer, grab a stack of books, set aside a 10 -30 minute period and tell your kids they're going to spend it reading. Let them read whatever they want. Don't grill them on what they read afterward. Aim to do it 3 times a week. Bookivore humbly suggests you drop what you're doing and join in. There's nothing more powerful than the very-present model of a parent reading for fun right along with the kids.

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