I have been studying reading instruction and children's reading habits a lot lately. One trend that I have read about over and over in the past few weeks is that children enjoy reading less as they grow older. As children progress through their formal schooling it has been discovered that they read for pleasure less. These statistics make me so SAD.
Many reasons have been given for this decrease in reading as children progress through school. Some people blame reading logs because they make reading a "chore". Some blame electronics and social media for taking our children's attention away from the printed word. Honestly, I don't know if we will ever really know what is causing this decrease in reading interest among children and young adults.
But here's the skinny. Kids who read for pleasure come out ahead in lots of different areas. Studies have shown that children who read for pleasure do better academically, socially and emotionally. Along with all of these wonderful benefits, reading for pleasure is a hobby that will stick with a child throughout their life.
We know that this is an issue, no matter what the cause, we should be focused on the solution. This is not something that we have to accept, but we have to be very strategic in how we encourage our children and young adults to become avid readers. I have highlighted some ways in my previous posts this month to spark reading interest in your child through library visits, providing a rich reading environment and helping your child build comprehension. In my opinion, reading should never feel like a chore. Anything that feels like work will squash interest.
Today I will highlight my final and maybe my favorite way to encourage reading for pleasure and the path that leads to all those wonderful reading benefits. Edge moments. An edge moment is taking a little slice of time that is usually filled with nothing and filling it with reading instead. Examples of edge moments are waiting in line, car rides, waiting for dinner, really any time where you don't have enough time to start an activity but you have just enough time to open a book and read a couple of pages.
When I was doing my student teaching, my mentor teacher always had students "catch an edge moment" during those little spaces of the day where there was nothing to do (bathroom breaks, right after lunch, waiting for specials). You would not believe how those little faces would light up as they got to read a few pages of their book. The reading motivation for those kids really increased as they caught more edge moments.
Think about it, if your child took advantage of two 5 minute edge moments a day, they will read 35 extra minutes each week. That's about 2 hours and 20 minutes more each month and about 28 more hours each year!
Make sure your child has access to lots of books that they are tempted to pick up during their edge moments. Even if the book is a little outside of your child's reading level, even looking at the book can have benefits. The more your child picks up a book that they enjoy, the more likely they are to get in the habit of reading for pleasure.
Consider trying to read during edge moments as a family and let me know how it goes. I don't think you will be disappointed!