What is Reading for Pleasure?
Reading for pleasure is also described as independent reading, self-selected reading or reading for fun or enjoyment depending on who you talk to!
The goals for this type of reading includes relaxation, entertainment, and the satisfaction gained from reading subject matter of personal interest. Readers select their own books, magazines or comics and read at the times and in the places they choose. Their reading habits may vary from day to day or one year to the next. Children who read for pleasure, will probably become adults who read, even if they take breaks, now and again.
What are the Benefits of Reading for Pleasure?
Research shows that both children and adults who are independent readers not only gain more knowledge in many different areas but also broaden their vocabularies, improve their reading fluency, and increase their reading comprehension for all types of reading. They also have stronger critical thinking skills. Students who read for pleasure are known to earn higher scores in standardized tests, not just in language arts but in all content areas, including math.
Beyond academic gains, those who read for pleasure also experience social advantages. They tend to gain empathy and social awareness, which can help them better understand the opinions and mental workings of others. This can be an asset in school, within the work world, and in personal relationships.
Who Reads for Pleasure?
People of all ages read for fun, ranging from young children to elderly adults. Researchers take a special interest in the self-selected reading habits of students since they are the future of our societies.
In 2000 studies showed that the number of children who read for pleasure was declining rapidly. The percentage of 17-year-old students who said they did absolutely no reading for pleasure had doubled, as compared to the preceding two decades.
It appears that kids begin to read less when they hit the teenage years. They could become disillusioned by reading due to various factors:
- Overload of assigned stories and books in school
- Overuse of competitive programs, like Accelerated Reader, in lower grades
- Overabundance of standardized tests and being “taught for the tests”
- Parents and peers who do not model reading for pleasure
- Lack of time because of jobs and extra-curricular activities
- Preoccupation with social media and other technology
- Lack of vocabulary development, which makes reading difficult
- Lack of imagination due to the constant bombardment of technology
Students from middle-class and low-income families read at a similar pace during the school year, research shows. However, students from low-income homes may read less during the summer due to lack of books owned by the families, less access to libraries, and lack of affordable stores where they can purchase books.
What do Educators Think about Pleasure Reading?
Overall, teachers tend to believe that reading for pleasure enhances reading comprehension in assigned texts, while increasing academic achievement in general. They often encourage their students to read self-selected books outside of school.
The problem for implementation in the classroom, especially by high school, is finding enough time to set aside for independent reading to be effective. Teachers are too busy trying to make sure they hit all the necessary points in the state curriculum and that their students do well on standardized tests. In general, research points to the sad fact that schools do not provide a culture that obviously places a high value on reading.
Writing connects closely to reading, as well, so students can strengthen both skills while reading and writing for pleasure. Some teachers note that the current trend for kids to use “short-hand” words and sentences in their writing and reading while texting, and while using various social media platforms, is a negative for overall literacy development.
How does Reading for Pleasure Connect to Success?
Many admired celebrities and leaders claim to be avid readers. The knowledge gained through books has given them a wide view of the world and has exposed them to all the possibilities life has to offer.
As compared to students who do not read for pleasure, those who read for fun tend to earn higher scores in all subject areas, such as language arts, science, math, and history. Reading to satisfy one curiosity generates new questions which the reader must answer by reading even more!
Students who read widely for pure enjoyment take all that knowledge with them out into the world when they graduate. This offers them a huge advantage as they join the workforce and find their places as effective citizens.