News & Insights 9 April 2020

Reading for Pleasure

We wanted to share this interesting blog from one of our team on ‘Reading for Pleasure’ which was drafted before the crisis. Reading is not only important for your own well being, but it can also help with a child’s academic attainment. During this time when schools are closed, we encourage all pupils to read as much as possible. 

The importance of reading for pleasure

According to an OECD report in 2002, a child’s educational attainment can be more clearly predicted by whether they read for enjoyment than it can be by looking at their socio-economic background. This startling fact partly reflects that those from disadvantaged backgrounds will have more limited access to books, for many reasons including local library closures and lack of school funding. However, it also shows that a targeted intervention in this area can have a wide-reaching positive impact on a child’s future.

Reading ability doesn’t just impact attainment in English. A recent article in Tes referred to literacy as a “magic bullet” in education, pointing out that reading is essential for pupils to be able to understand the wider curriculum. The benefits of reading for pleasure go far beyond academic attainment. Research by The Reading Agency found that reading for enjoyment is linked to increased empathy, improved relationships with others, reductions in the symptoms of depression and dementia, and overall improved wellbeing.

So how can we encourage pupils to read for pleasure, rather than regarding it as extra homework? 

One simple answer is to let them see you reading for fun. Children are easily influenced by what they see the adults in their lives doing, for better or for worse. Modelling reading for pleasure helps to create a positive mindset in which reading is seen as a leisure activity like watching TV or playing a video game, rather than as a chore.

Allowing children to freely choose their own reading material is also crucial. While pupils in a class will all be expected to read the same texts, they should be encouraged to pursue their own tastes and interests in their wider reading. This might include blog posts or articles about a topic that interests them, or less traditional formats like graphic novels. Anything that gets them reading should be encouraged, even if it’s not something you would choose to read yourself. 

Action Tutoring recognises the huge importance of reading for pleasure, so ‘free reading’ activities are built into our primary English workbooks. Tutors are encouraged to spend ten minutes at the start of each session reading with their pupils in a relaxed way, without testing their comprehension of the text.

reading for pleasure

The benefits of reading for pleasure aren’t limited to children. Not only does taking time for reading set a great example for pupils, it can also boost your own wellbeing. As concerns about coronavirus spread and many of us are starting to feel cooped up at home, there is no better time to lose yourself in a good book.

If you would like to encourage disadvantaged pupils to read more, you can join our community of inspiring volunteers. Your contribution is incredibly important in lowering the attainment gap and making sure all children are given the academic support they need to succeed in school.