Why Independent Reading is Exactly What Students Need Right Now

As the school year approaches the half-way point, reflective educators everywhere are taking a close look at student growth, considering what next steps for each reader might be and making plans for relevant future instruction. Too often, this reflection is coupled with pressure to fit in all the units of study or to cover predetermined grade-level content. As a result, teachers are caught between what their students actually need and what curriculum requires, (even when these two needs are at odds with one another).
This is why independent reading is exactly what you and your students need right now…and always. Independent reading is a research-backed literacy practice that satisfies this balance while also nurturing the unique voices and purposes for reading of each student. Independent reading time and again has demonstrated the potential/ability to develop reading comprehension ability, vocabulary, grammar and spelling (Krashen, 2004), spark critical conversations and actions for a more just world (German; Bomer & Bomer), improve reading fluency (Allington, 2014), nurture empathy (Laminack & Kelly, 2019), build content knowledge (ILA, 2018), and nurture resilience (Routman, 2002)…and that’s just the start of the list. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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