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The Importance of Independent Reading for Children

As an educator, specifically a Reading Teacher, my number one job is to instill a love of reading in my students. We read together daily. We engage in meaningful tasks to further our understanding and appreciation of the text we are reading. We stretch ourselves to deepen our thinking. We respond to text. We connect to text. I do all that I can in my classroom to foster a passion, appreciation, and joy in reading. But NOTHING I do in my classroom can compare with what reading at home does for my students.

Today it seems there is even more vying for our children's attention, keeping our kiddos from opening a book. It is harder to encourage our children to be well read. Yet, evidence shows that being well read increases a person's chance at success. Many of the most successful people in the world consider reading to be one of their highest priorities.

For parents, putting independent reading as a high priority in our homes is a battle. Why is the battle worth fighting?

*Imagination. It's a beautiful gift from our Creator. Children are little beings meant to imagine. When children use their imagination, they are functioning as they were intended at their young age. Tweens and teens have brains that need to imagine. Books encourage and grow imagination.

*Vocabulary. Students are exposed to many words in the classroom. Teachers work hard to help their students grow in their understanding of words. But the amount of words that a teacher can introduce to their students in the classroom doesn't compare to the amount of words students come across through independent reading. The best way to grow vocabulary is through independent reading.

*Grammar and spelling. Students will be more successful in forming sentences and using proper conventions if they are exposed to sentences in books.

*Writing. Writers are readers. Students who read often will be more natural and gifted as writers.

*Brain Activity. Reading exercises both sides of the brain. The brain will grow through reading, which will impact all areas of the child's learning. All subject areas will be enhanced when a child reads consistently independently.

*Solitude. Reading helps our children take a break from the stimulation that is filling their environment. Sitting in a quiet place with a book helps ensure there is simplicity and solitude carved in their day, which is vital.

*Growth in knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Books expose children to information and thoughts that will help them grow. The wisdom and understanding they gain through reading will impact them for the present time and in the future.

The list goes on. These days it isn't as appealing to children to pick up a book because of all of the other distractions they deal with. In the past, there wasn't always something to watch or listen to or play. It is vital that parents make reading a priority by expecting children to open a book. My personal recommendation is that children engage in independent reading for 20 minutes a day at least 4 days a week.

Parents, do not leave it entirely up to your child's teacher to increase your child's abilities in reading. Make independent reading a priority and consistent practice in your home. Your child will surely grow.

Here is my favorite, in case you are needing a book to start with.