In order for students to become better readers, they need to read. The more students read the more skillful and fluent they will become. How can we get students to read? Teachers can not ensure that students are reading nightly for the assigned amount of time, so a teacher should schedule independent reading time into her daily schedule. Independent reading time is a time set aside for students to do self-selected reading at their independent level, which means they are reading at a level where they can easily decode words and comprehend the text. If students are not reading text at their independent level, they may become frustrated and quit reading, or if the child is not challenged enough, they may become bored. Either way, if a child is not at the appropriate level, then they cannot progress in their reading skill.
Independent reading is beneficial for students for many reasons. Students are given vocabulary instruction during teacher-directed lessons, but the majority of vocabulary is learned through reading (Moss & Young, 2010). Independent reading also helps enhance background knowledge by allowing a student to experience something through reading that they may not actually experience in their lives (Moss & Young, 2010). Increased comprehension is another benefit. Students will begin to understand more of what they read- not only the text, but the meaning of the text. As students’ vocabulary become richer, background knowledge is enhanced, and their comprehension is increased, their overall reading achievement will increase. Becoming better readers will hopefully boost their motivation to read, causing them to be even more involved with text.
There are many factors that can affect independent reading. To begin with, in order for it to be successful, it needs to be built into your classroom schedule. All students need to be reading books that are on their independent level. A great idea to ensure that students have appropriate books is to level the books in your classroom library. I know it will be very time-consuming, but it will make it much easier for students to find appropriate text to read. In regards to the classroom library, it is important that it include books from a wide variety of genres, and there are many, many to choose from.
When I read, I like to be comfortable, and I want my students to be also. For seating I would have bean bags, cushion chairs, body pillows, and beach towels, and I may bring some fleece throws so students can ‘snuggle’ with their book. In Kindergarten, students could all lie/sit near the reading rug, but once you get in the older grades, they seem to take up more space. I would have one are designated for the cushion chairs and bean bags, but I would allow students to go to other parts of the room with their body pillows and beach towels. This way students would be spread out, and have lots of comfortable space. My library would consist of many books, all of which would be labeled according to AR level, and they would be stored in baskets according to reading level. The baskets would sit on shelves that lined the reading rug, defining the reading space. Books would be facing the students so that they could see the title and cover to help them make an easier selection.
My collection of books would include various genres, topics, and academic levels. Just to name a few, I would include fantasy, fairy tale, fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, and magazines. Having a wide variety of topics will help ensure that I have something in my library that will interest each student. To confirm this, I could administer the interest inventory to students so that I know what topics this particular class are interested in. My collection of books would also have books on varying levels because students will range in academic ability. I need to have books available that are two to three years below grade-level, on grade-level, and books that are two-to-three years that are above grade-level. I would use the following resources to help find quality literature for my classroom:
According to Moss and Young (2010), an Independent Reading Program “involves 15 minutes for a large-group focus lesson, 30 minutes for individual reading, and 15 minutes for student completion of response activities “, with 15 minutes of that time being spent on student –teacher conferences. I believe the duration of this program is too much for Kindergarteners, and will need to either be shortened of spread out throughout the day. In our classroom now, we don’t follow anything like this. Not all students can read independently, and I don’t recall students ever writing a personal response to something we or they have read. If I had my own classroom (preferably not KindergartenJ), I would hope that I could have a reading “block” and do all my reading activities at one time. I would do my short focus lesson whole-group, and then we would lead into thirty minutes of daily self-selected reading. When this time is over, I would give students time to respond to their reading with writing. Moss and Young (2010) also recommend there be twenty minutes of community reading time at least twice a week. This is an excellent time to do book talks, book sharing, and interactive read alouds. The purposes of these activities are to capture the students’ interest for a particular book and motivate them to go and read the book. I would love to be able to have a schedule where I could incorporate community time daily because I believe it is very motivating for students.
Literacy instruction can easily be linked with other content areas. There is a wealth of quality literature available that can be incorporated into Science, Social Studies, Health, etc. Vocabulary can be enriched, background knowledge can be enhanced, and comprehension can be increased through any text. Sometimes, content are texts are harder to master. They have more difficult vocabulary and discuss experiences/topics the reader might be unfamiliar with which causes a lack in comprehension. These texts can make a child appear unsuccessful in the content areas, when in fact the student is struggling with the reading. All of the necessary skills must be mastered to be successful, no matter what the subject.
Moss, B. & Young, T. (2010). Creating lifelong readers through independent reading. Newark, DE: International Reading Association