Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 7th 2014 Contents A31
Monday, July 7, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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Once July rolls around, you
can bet I will be hounding
you about holiday reading. The
simple act of reading assures that
students will return to school in
September ahead of their peers,
academically speaking. Reading is
the foundation for all learning.
As author Mary Leonhardt
says, "The sophisticated skills
demanded by high-level academic
or professional work---the ability
to understand multiple plots or
complex issues, a sensitivity to
tone, the expertise to know
immediately what is crucial to a
text and what can be skimmed---
can be acquired only through
years of avid reading."
When we speak of holiday
reading, we re speaking of some-
thing called free, voluntary read-
ing (FVR). This means reading
because you choose to read.
There are no restrictions, and
you don t have to finish a book.
Of course, you are better off if
you see the book through to the
In the book, The Power of
Reading: Insights from the
Research, Stephen D Krashen
says, that by itself, reading does
not necessarily produce the high-
est levels of competence, but it
does "provide a foundation so
that higher levels of proficiency
may be reached."
Studies showed that when free
reading periods of five to 15 min-
utes are introduced into a school,
reading comprehension improved
dramatically over a year. In class-
es with an average of 25 stu-
dents, eight students had positive
results, 14 showed no difference
and three registered a negative
impact when the programme was
less than seven months old.
When the programme was
implemented from seven months
to one year, nine students regis-
tered a positive improvement, ten
showed no difference and zero
fell into the negative category.
For a programme that lasted
more than a year, eight students
registered positive improvement
in reading comprehension, two
showed no difference and zero
registered as negative.
This indicates that long-term,
silent sustained reading pro-
grammes do help students to
build important comprehension
and analytical skills. Our schools
need to realise that and imple-
ment silent sustained reading
every day. Parents need to do the
same at home for their children.
What is equally surprising and
equally important is that 51 out
of 54 comparisons showed that
students in voluntary reading
programmes did just as well or
better than students who were in
formal reading programmes.
One study included in
Krashen s book examined the
effects of a free reading pro-
gramme on 60 reform schools
with boys ranging from the ages
of 12 to 17. The boys read news-
papers, magazines and novels.
These were used for the basis of
classroom discussions. After one
year, the readers reading com-
prehension scores on the
Scholastic Achievement Test
increased from 69.9 per cent to
82.7 per cent. This study was
conducted in 1976, but I am bet-
ting this would hold true for
Free reading has been the basis
of my CXC English programmes
in YTC, and it is clear that the
more students read, the better
they do in English and on exams.
Studies show that consistent
reading improves spelling, writ-
ing, analytical skills and general
decoding of information.
There is probably little I need
to do to convince most adults
that reading is important. The
question I am hit with most
often is "How did I get my child
Countless studies show that
the best way to get children to
read is to read aloud to them.
Parents can introduce toddlers to
books---even before they can
speak. Toddlers will relate to the
rhythm and sound of language.
The good thing is that you can
read a handful of books over and
over to a toddler so it need not
cost a lot of money to build a
foundation in reading. Cloth
books and board books are good
for toddlers too. They can put
them in their mouths.
Parents should keep up the tra-
dition of reading to children as
long as children willingly allow it.
Most children up to secondary
school enjoy being read to---espe-
cially if they don t want to read.
Children will develop listening
skills and analytical skills if par-
ents read to them. There is also a
chance that they ll become curi-
ous and want to read on their
Once students start to rebel
about sitting down for story
time, parents can still catch them
unexpectedly by reading some-
thing from an interesting Internet
story, an excerpt from a movie
review of a movie they want to
see or anything that might pique
children s interest.
Reading is most beneficial
when children choose to read so
the trick is to guide children in
that direction. There are excellent
articles on the Internet for
teenagers to read if all else fails.
Graphic novels---comics---are also
a good way of enlisting children
in the reading cause. Check out
summer reading lists on the
Internet for some good ideas. If
teens read nothing more than the
book descriptions, they have suc-
ceeded in reading a good, concise
Next week: Look out for book
suggestions for th\ost
SILENT SUSTAINED READING PROGRAMMES DO HELP
Free reading has been the basis of my CXC English
programmes in YTC, and it is clear that the more students
read, the better they do in English and on exams.
Studies show that consistent reading improves spelling,
writing, analytical skills and general decoding of
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