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Making a Case for Reading Joy
ILA 2019 Replay
Making a Case for Reading Joy
ILA 2019 Replay
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ILA Highlights Benefits of Reading Practice and Volume

By Alina O'Donnell
 | Jan 31, 2019
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In an era of technological distractions, instilling a love of reading in students has become increasingly difficult for teachers. The solution, according to a new brief from the International Literacy Association (ILA), is deceptively simple: Give students control over their reading lives through independent reading.

In Creating Passionate Readers Through Independent Reading, the organization draws on research that demonstrates how independent reading builds student competence, confidence, and joy.

“We have decades of studies proving the power of independent reading,” says ILA Executive Director Marcie Craig Post. “It’s why we advocate for independent reading that is truly independent.”

Post describes independent reading as an activity driven by student selection and motivation that’s free from assessment and accountability, but not support. ILA’s definition of independent reading includes the important role teachers play in the practice, such as offering suggestions about text selection based on students' self-identified interests, initiating conversations with students about what they’re reading, and facilitating similar discussions among peer groups.

To heighten reading motivation, ILA recommends that educators not only ensure choice, but also provide texts that reflect topics of interest and stories that are representative of all students in the classroom and beyond. An added benefit? Diverse and inclusive classroom libraries help foster a love of reading.

Due to increased emphasis on test preparation, assigned reading, and other curricular requirements, many teachers struggle to carve out time for quality independent reading. But, as ILA points out, when independent reading isn’t prioritized or encouraged in the classroom, students miss out on important benefits, such as improved reading stamina, vocabulary, and background knowledge.

Additionally, teachers lack valuable opportunities to coach, instruct, provide feedback, and assess the effectiveness of independent reading.

The brief includes a list of takeaways to help educators boost student interest in and engagement with books.

Access the full text here.

Alina O'Donnell is the communications strategist at ILA and the editor of
Literacy Daily. 

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