Calls for independent reading time in schools

Written by: Emma Lee Potter | Published:

Less than a quarter of teenagers get the chance to read for pleasure during the school day, according to a new survey.

The revelation has resulted in calls for independent reading time to be built into school timetables – in a bid to encourage more teens to read.

The Kids and Family Reading Report for the UK, published by children’s publishing company Scholastic, quizzed nearly 1,800 children aged six to 17 and their parents about their reading habits.

Results showed that youngsters who are given time to read books of their choice at school are more likely to enjoy reading and to read frequently.

Researchers discovered that while half of six to eight-year-olds read for pleasure at school, only 25 per cent of 12 to 14-year-olds and 11 per cent of 15 to 17-year-olds get the opportunity.

John Iona, the librarian at Oasis Academy Enfield in Middlesex and winner of the School Librarian of the Year award in 2013, believes children benefit hugely from independent reading time at school.

Year 7 and 8s at his school have a lesson in the library each week, with a focus on reading for pleasure. Pupils are given free choice of reading and are encouraged to have a reading book with them at all times.

“To read for pleasure is such a powerful habit to form,” Mr Iona told SecEd. “It is indicative of a whole range of attitudes that include confidence in reading, a comfort in engaging with a text, an ability to empathise, an independence in forming and developing new ideas, and a platform for finding out things for themselves.

“We know that reading for pleasure is also one of the indicators for academic achievement and so not only breaks down barriers to learning but can be an integral part of growing as a person and achieving potential.”

Chris Routh, the librarian at Leighton Park School in Reading, and a contender for this year’s School Librarian of the Year title, believes schools should incorporate reading for pleasure as a whole-school activity, during registration or tutor time or as part of lessons.

“Reading for pleasure is important in secondary schools because, given the right book, it can be great fun, entertaining, pure escapism and hopefully the start of a life-long addiction,” she said. “Books can open your mind to new ideas and different points of view. They have the potential to be life-changing.”

You can read the full report at report


Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Sign up SecEd Bulletin