The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 3 - Page 18


The teachers also indicated that it was important to have clear expectations and modeling available to students to make independent reading successful. Most of the teachers appeared to find that for students to use independent reading time successfully they needed to read quietly in one spot, read the entire time, and read from just right books.

It also appeared to be indicated from the teacher responses that independent reading is important in building both stamina and fluency in reading. One teacher indicated that it is a great way to get to know students reading interests. There was an indication that not all teachers felt that students being allowed to have choice in reading improved reading engagement. Further study would be necessary to determine why there was a perceived lack of engagement by the students.

It appears that all teachers found independent reading valuable in some way and said they were already implementing independent reading in the current school year.

Advice from These Teachers

These eight teachers were asked if they had any advice for other teachers who would like to focus on independent reading in their classrooms. The following are their suggestions:

● Set and stick to expectations to maximize the benefit.

● Do not attach a mandatory assignment. Instead, give options to respond or create a book report. Make it about a love of reading.

● Help students set goals for themselves. For example, if students are constantly reading the same genre it can be fun to help them find another genre.

● Modeling and set-up are important.

● Find out what your children love to read and build a library that better suits their needs and interests.

● It is easy to implement and hold great value for students.

● It is an important time to get to know your students more deeply as readers and what interests them.

In Conclusion

As a caution, while research does suggest that independent reading can correlate to scholastic achievement, there are still some issues. One issue is that there is a lack of experimental research in recent years on whether reading comprehension and fluency are directly influenced by independent reading (Reis et al., 2008). The protractors argue that independent reading is not effective if students do not have the skills needed to read and have a deeper understanding of the text, students may not follow through with the act of independent reading, and teachers may lack the time or training to track student progress. Many people are becoming fearful of independent reading because the National Reading Panel did not find evidence that it helped improve reading comprehension (Trudel, 2007).

Because of the lack of recent studies on independent reading, some scholars argued that independent reading was not enough in and of itself to prove independent reading was the reason behind students’ academic achievement (Reis et al., 2008). Some research advocates for a more balanced literacy model that includes modeling and guided practice to teach students how to more effectively read independently (Bingham & Kenyon, 2013).

Even though there are questions and issues that remain about independent reading and its effect on learning, there are some things most researchers do agree on when it comes to independent reading:

● Student engagement in reading is necessary to build lifelong readers (Kasten & Wilfong, 2005).

● Students who tend to read independently on their own tend to show more improvement in their scholastic achievement (Topping et al., 2008).

● Using a balanced literacy approach with an embedded independent reading time is valuable to student achievement (Greenwood et al., 2003).

The eight teachers surveyed for this study

agree and believe that providing the time for daily independent silent reading in their classrooms has impact on students’ reading and love of reading, and they highly recommend the practice to other teachers