School is a place to learn to read and also to read to learn. Students begin learning letters and sounds and by the time they are through the primary grades they are reading longer passages and beginning to understand that reading is a skill they will need in all subject areas. Sometimes students begin to feel frustrated when they can’t keep up or the content begins to be challenging. Guess what helps with instructional reading skills and even improving test scores? Pleasure reading. Reading for fun! Reading without purpose, choosing their own material, and engaging with books that are not even assigned is all part of pleasure reading. And guess where students can access pleasure reading materials and also have an expert to help them find books they want to read? You guessed it! The school library. The school library is a safe place without any assessments or assignments where students are free to choose books that speak to them.
Reading Unbound by Michael Smith and Jeffrey Wilhelm shares many research studies that show that students need exposure and opportunities for pleasure reading. “Pleasure reading is a more powerful predictor than even parental socioeconomic status and educational attainment” (Wilhelm). It is our job as teacher librarians to promote pleasure reading to all students and work to provide them with a diverse collection of materials to support them.This builds lifelong readers but also builds better students and lifelong learners.
What does this look like in Vancouver Public Schools? As teacher librarians, we work hard to encourage students, inspire readers, and develop collections where students can see themselves and also learn about others. Teacher librarians, with help from our clerks, purchase and process materials that are new and exciting for our students, build displays and bulletin boards, do book talks, and talk with students about great reading choices that support reading just for fun. You can find literature clubs, Battle of the Books teams, student book reviews, special collections, and even book “tastings” at all different levels in our schools. And you will also find a teacher librarian, with a clerk by their side, smiling as they add new books this fall that they just know students will love.
You can learn more about the benefits of pleasure reading here:
The Benefits of Reading for Pleasure
How Reading for Pleasure Helps Students Develop Academically
Reading for pleasure — a door to success
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Pleasure Reading