Revelation on Reading

This week I had many realizations about reading and school. It all came from this book,  The Power of Reading: Insights from Research by Stephen Krashen. Krashen provides a well argued point about how reading is very influential in the development of a child.  Krashen uses many different research studies, articles, and profound sources that illustrate this point.

One of the important lessons to take away from this book is that free voluntary reading (FVR) is the best way to develop literacy and results in better test scores. FVR is defined as reading for personal gain or without being graded. This type of indirect education for children is proven to be better than direct instruction.  Direct instruction is when a language arts teacher lectures about spelling, grammar, or vocabulary. Then the teacher gives worksheets or homework, and if the teacher makes corrections on errors students are supposed to just recall the answer. Krashen gives many examples of the methods and explains what the research shows and it points to FVR.

There are many factors that play into if FVR will actually work or not.  Krashen insists that each component be included for a child to read. For example, if the child has the access to get books through purchase or renting at a school or public library.  Other factors include environment, libraries,reading aloud, time,  and encouragement.  The reading environmental should be quiet, comfortable, and inviting. The library should be avaiable to the child whether at school, or have a caregiver take child to public library. Caregivers should read aloud to the child, and then the child should do it on their own.  Time should be allotted for the child to read at school or home. Also, encouragement should be given from teachers, caregivers, and siblings so that the child will feel pleasure from reading.

Another important point that Krashen makes is that light or pleasure reading is not detrimental, but actually important. Krashen uses the example of comics and teen romance as genres that children or young adults are interested in. These two examples are not certainly what the teachers and parents may want them to read, but it is a gateway to other more sophisticated reading. For example, reading graphic novels as a child could lead them to read Stephen King as a adult and then lead them to journal articles about psychology.

Of course like every human, as I was reading I related this book back to myself and my childhood days. I liked reading as a child and always would participate in summer reading. However, while I was in grade, middle, and high school I do not recall ever having time for voluntary reading during school. But I do have memories of being in language art classes and being totally confused.  I am living proof direct instruction does not work, at least on me. I struggled to grasp the rules, grammar, and spelling through this type of instruction.  I was finally able to catch up through reading and repetition  of the same mistake. As I was reading this book, it just clicked with me why this did not work and I was able to comprehend what Krashen was saying on a personal level.

I recommend  this book to anyone who has doubts about the effects of reading on a child. I also think that this book should be read by all teachers, librarians, parents, and anyone on involved in education because it presents a strong argument that there is tremedous power gained from reading.


One thought on “Revelation on Reading

  1. Hi!

    Great post, I completely agree with you that Krashen’s book is utterly mind-blowing! I mean it is so simple, really, that FVR only has the capacity to build stronger readers and better students. Nevertheless, the case Krashen builds illuminating that it is the BEST way and then backing this claim up with solid evidence has the makings of a landmark discovery. What is more is that the evidence also supports the need for dedicated youth librarians in public and school libraries, directly linking professional librarians with reading achievement. I absolutely agree you with that this book is a must for every parent, librarian, and teacher. Moreover, I really appreciate the way that you wove your own experience of childhood reading into this post. Personally, I was beyond thrilled when Krashen concluded that even lighter fare such as comic books and teen romances increase literacy. As an avid Sweet Valley High reader, I can attest to this!! It is about finding a balance, and being a well-rounded individual. I mean, not every movie is intended to be an Oscar winner, and similarly, not every literary effort can be Shakespeare. People read books for a variety of reasons – it is truly all about the reading experience. As Krashen has contended, creating an enjoyable and satisfying reading experience is the clear path toward augmenting literacy.

    Thanks again for the interesting post!!


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