A young boy reading

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Aside from the sheer joy of exercising the imagination, research shows reading for pleasure improves literacy, social skills, health and learning outcomes.

It gives people access to culture and heritage and empowers them to become active citizens, who can contribute to economic and social development.

  • What is reading for pleasure

    The National Library Trust (UK), defines reading for pleasure, also referred to as independent, leisure or recreational reading, as:

    Reading we do of our own free will, anticipating the satisfaction we will get from the act of reading.

    They add that it's also reading that may have begun at someone else’s request, which we continue because we are interested in it. Christina Clark and Kate Rumbold note that reading for pleasure can be described as an act of play, which allows us to experience different worlds in our imagination and a creative and active/ interactive process.

  • What is reading for pleasure

    The National Library Trust (UK), defines reading for pleasure, also referred to as independent, leisure or recreational reading, as:

    Reading we do of our own free will, anticipating the satisfaction we will get from the act of reading.

    They add that it's also reading that may have begun at someone else’s request, which we continue because we are interested in it. Christina Clark and Kate Rumbold note that reading for pleasure can be described as an act of play, which allows us to experience different worlds in our imagination and a creative and active/ interactive process.

  • The importance of reading for pleasure

    In 2002, OECD research reported that reading enjoyment is more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status. While the International Reading Association pointed out that the ability to read and write has never been more critical.

    "Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st century will need to read and write more than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their personal lives. They will need literacy to cope with the flood of information they will find everywhere they turn. They will need literacy to feed their imaginations, so they can create the world of the future. In a complex, and sometimes dangerous world, the ability to read can be crucial."
    — International Reading Association, (Moore et al, 1999, p. 3 as cited by Clark & Rumbold, 2006).

    Research evidence on reading for pleasure report

    In 2012, the Education Standards Research Team (ESARD) in the UK, compiled the Research evidence on reading for pleasure report. It found that reading for pleasure had educational benefits, supported personal development and had a positive impact on reading including:

    • reading attainment and writing ability
    • text comprehension and grammar
    • breadth of vocabulary
    • positive reading attitudes
    • self-confidence as a reader
    • pleasure in reading in later life.

    The Research evidence on reading for pleasure report also identified benefits in:

    • general knowledge
    • understanding of other cultures
    • community participation
    • insight into human nature and decision-making.

    Research evidence on reading for pleasure (pdf, 364KB) — UK Department of Education, Education Standards Research Team, 2012.

  • The importance of reading for pleasure

    In 2002, OECD research reported that reading enjoyment is more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status. While the International Reading Association pointed out that the ability to read and write has never been more critical.

    "Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st century will need to read and write more than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their personal lives. They will need literacy to cope with the flood of information they will find everywhere they turn. They will need literacy to feed their imaginations, so they can create the world of the future. In a complex, and sometimes dangerous world, the ability to read can be crucial."
    — International Reading Association, (Moore et al, 1999, p. 3 as cited by Clark & Rumbold, 2006).

    Research evidence on reading for pleasure report

    In 2012, the Education Standards Research Team (ESARD) in the UK, compiled the Research evidence on reading for pleasure report. It found that reading for pleasure had educational benefits, supported personal development and had a positive impact on reading including:

    • reading attainment and writing ability
    • text comprehension and grammar
    • breadth of vocabulary
    • positive reading attitudes
    • self-confidence as a reader
    • pleasure in reading in later life.

    The Research evidence on reading for pleasure report also identified benefits in:

    • general knowledge
    • understanding of other cultures
    • community participation
    • insight into human nature and decision-making.

    Research evidence on reading for pleasure (pdf, 364KB) — UK Department of Education, Education Standards Research Team, 2012.

  • Positive implications for academic success

    The ability to read competently and, more importantly, the enjoyment of reading has implications for a student’s academic success. It's also an important indicator of success in other areas of life. The Growing Independence: Summary of Key Findings from the Competent Learners at 14 Project report found that students who love reading had:

    • higher scores on the cognitive and social/attitudinal competencies
    • consistently higher scores in mathematics, reading, logical problem-solving and attitude
    • higher average scores for engagement in school, positive communication and relations with family, and positive friendships
    • showed less risky behaviour
    • higher levels of motivation towards school.

    Those who did not enjoy reading were more likely to be:

    • heavier television watchers over time
    • exposed to bullying experiences
    • seen by teachers as having difficult classroom behaviour at age 12
    • less likely to complete their homework
    • less likely to be enthusiastic about going to school.

    The paper On the edge of adulthood: summary of key findings from the competent learners @16 project includes enjoyment of reading as one of the 3 indicators that suggest a child or young person is well placed for learning.

    Growing independence: Summary of key findings from the competent learners @14 project — New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

    On the edge of adulthood: summary of key findings from the competent learners @16 project — New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

  • Positive implications for academic success

    The ability to read competently and, more importantly, the enjoyment of reading has implications for a student’s academic success. It's also an important indicator of success in other areas of life. The Growing Independence: Summary of Key Findings from the Competent Learners at 14 Project report found that students who love reading had:

    • higher scores on the cognitive and social/attitudinal competencies
    • consistently higher scores in mathematics, reading, logical problem-solving and attitude
    • higher average scores for engagement in school, positive communication and relations with family, and positive friendships
    • showed less risky behaviour
    • higher levels of motivation towards school.

    Those who did not enjoy reading were more likely to be:

    • heavier television watchers over time
    • exposed to bullying experiences
    • seen by teachers as having difficult classroom behaviour at age 12
    • less likely to complete their homework
    • less likely to be enthusiastic about going to school.

    The paper On the edge of adulthood: summary of key findings from the competent learners @16 project includes enjoyment of reading as one of the 3 indicators that suggest a child or young person is well placed for learning.

    Growing independence: Summary of key findings from the competent learners @14 project — New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

    On the edge of adulthood: summary of key findings from the competent learners @16 project — New Zealand Council for Educational Research.

  • Positive impact on reading achievement

    International research strongly suggests frequent reading for enjoyment correlates with increases in reading achievement. (Clark, 2011, Clark & Rumbold, 2006, Clark & Douglas 2011, PISA 2009)

    "When children read for pleasure, when they get 'hooked on books', they acquire, involuntarily and without conscious effort, nearly all of the so-called 'language skills' many people are so concerned about: they will become adequate readers, acquire a large vocabulary, develop the ability to understand and use complex grammatical constructions, develop a good writing style, and become good (but not necessarily perfect) spellers. Although free voluntary reading alone will not ensure attainment of the highest levels of literacy, it will at least ensure an acceptable level. Without it, I suspect that children simply do not have a chance."
    — Linguist Stephen D Krashen (1993, p. 85)

    PISA 2009 key findings

    The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 key findings, showed that in all countries surveyed, children who enjoyed reading performed significantly better than those who did not. Students who independently read fiction tended to score more highly, but students who read a wide variety of material performed overall particularly well.

    The relationship between online reading activities and reading performance was also positively co-related. Frequent reading for fun regardless of whether books/ magazines or the internet was strongly co-related with improvements in Progress in International reading literacy (PIRLS) literacy scores. However, reading for information was not strongly co-related (PIRLS, 2006).

    Young people who enjoy reading very much are nearly five times as likely to read above the expected level for their age compared with young people who do not enjoy reading at all.
    — Children's and Young People's Reading Today, National Literacy Trust, 2011
  • Positive impact on reading achievement

    International research strongly suggests frequent reading for enjoyment correlates with increases in reading achievement. (Clark, 2011, Clark & Rumbold, 2006, Clark & Douglas 2011, PISA 2009)

    "When children read for pleasure, when they get 'hooked on books', they acquire, involuntarily and without conscious effort, nearly all of the so-called 'language skills' many people are so concerned about: they will become adequate readers, acquire a large vocabulary, develop the ability to understand and use complex grammatical constructions, develop a good writing style, and become good (but not necessarily perfect) spellers. Although free voluntary reading alone will not ensure attainment of the highest levels of literacy, it will at least ensure an acceptable level. Without it, I suspect that children simply do not have a chance."
    — Linguist Stephen D Krashen (1993, p. 85)

    PISA 2009 key findings

    The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 key findings, showed that in all countries surveyed, children who enjoyed reading performed significantly better than those who did not. Students who independently read fiction tended to score more highly, but students who read a wide variety of material performed overall particularly well.

    The relationship between online reading activities and reading performance was also positively co-related. Frequent reading for fun regardless of whether books/ magazines or the internet was strongly co-related with improvements in Progress in International reading literacy (PIRLS) literacy scores. However, reading for information was not strongly co-related (PIRLS, 2006).

    Young people who enjoy reading very much are nearly five times as likely to read above the expected level for their age compared with young people who do not enjoy reading at all.
    — Children's and Young People's Reading Today, National Literacy Trust, 2011
  • Improves vocabulary, spelling and maths

    The Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: the role of reading research from University of London’s Institute of Education (IOE) has found children between the ages of 10-16 who read for pleasure, make significantly more progress in vocabulary, spelling and maths than children who rarely read. Study author Dr Alice Sullivan found:

    "...reading for pleasure was more important for children's cognitive development between ages 10 and 16 than their parents' level of education. The combined effect on children's progress of reading books often, going to the library regularly and reading newspapers at 16 was four times greater than the advantage children gained from having a parent with a degree."

    Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: the role of reading (pdf, 854KB)

  • Improves vocabulary, spelling and maths

    The Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: the role of reading research from University of London’s Institute of Education (IOE) has found children between the ages of 10-16 who read for pleasure, make significantly more progress in vocabulary, spelling and maths than children who rarely read. Study author Dr Alice Sullivan found:

    "...reading for pleasure was more important for children's cognitive development between ages 10 and 16 than their parents' level of education. The combined effect on children's progress of reading books often, going to the library regularly and reading newspapers at 16 was four times greater than the advantage children gained from having a parent with a degree."

    Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: the role of reading (pdf, 854KB)

  • Can increase empathy and social skills

    The report Exploring the link between reading fiction and empathy: Ruling out individual differences and examining outcomes found exposure to fiction increased performance on empathy tasks. They also found that reading fiction had a positive correlation with social support.

    In a 2014 study, Simultaneously uncovering the patterns of brain regions involved in different story reading subprocesses, Carnegie Mellon University discovered that reading a chapter of Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone involved the same brain regions you would use in a real-life experience such as watching someone move in the real world.

    Interacting with others over books can develop social and oral skills, leading to increased social interaction and oral language development, becoming a source of pleasure throughout life (Clark & Rumbold, 2006).

    Exploring the link between reading fiction and empathy: ruling out individual differences and examining outcomes

    Simultaneously uncovering the patterns of brain regions involved in different story reading subprocesses

  • Can increase empathy and social skills

    The report Exploring the link between reading fiction and empathy: Ruling out individual differences and examining outcomes found exposure to fiction increased performance on empathy tasks. They also found that reading fiction had a positive correlation with social support.

    In a 2014 study, Simultaneously uncovering the patterns of brain regions involved in different story reading subprocesses, Carnegie Mellon University discovered that reading a chapter of Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone involved the same brain regions you would use in a real-life experience such as watching someone move in the real world.

    Interacting with others over books can develop social and oral skills, leading to increased social interaction and oral language development, becoming a source of pleasure throughout life (Clark & Rumbold, 2006).

    Exploring the link between reading fiction and empathy: ruling out individual differences and examining outcomes

    Simultaneously uncovering the patterns of brain regions involved in different story reading subprocesses

  • Source of pleasure and stimulates the imagination

    It's important to acknowledge the importance of the pleasure and imaginative aspects of reading. Through reading children are free to choose; the worlds they visit, the characters they meet, the points of view they encounter and the visions they create.

    Neil Gaiman articulates this beautifully in this 2013 Guardian article: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming stating that:

    using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens.

    Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

  • Source of pleasure and stimulates the imagination

    It's important to acknowledge the importance of the pleasure and imaginative aspects of reading. Through reading children are free to choose; the worlds they visit, the characters they meet, the points of view they encounter and the visions they create.

    Neil Gaiman articulates this beautifully in this 2013 Guardian article: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming stating that:

    using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens.

    Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

  • Improves health and well-being

    Research suggesting that reading for pleasure can have health benefits includes this study, Reading 'can help reduce stress' from Mindlab International at the University of Sussex.

    The study found that tension eased and heart rates slowed down in subjects who read silently for as little as 6 minutes. It also reported reading to be 300% better at reducing stress than going for a walk and 700% more effective than playing video games.

    Reading 'can help reduce stress'

  • Improves health and well-being

    Research suggesting that reading for pleasure can have health benefits includes this study, Reading 'can help reduce stress' from Mindlab International at the University of Sussex.

    The study found that tension eased and heart rates slowed down in subjects who read silently for as little as 6 minutes. It also reported reading to be 300% better at reducing stress than going for a walk and 700% more effective than playing video games.

    Reading 'can help reduce stress'

  • Reading for pleasure has decreased over time

    Reading for enjoyment has decreased over time. Between 2000 and 2009, on average across OECD countries, daily reading for enjoyment dropped 5 percentile points, accompanied by a related decrease in positive attitudes towards reading. (OECD 2010, PIRLS, 2006, as cited by Research evidence on reading for pleasure, Educational Standards Research Team, UK, 2012).

    Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.
    — Kate DiCamillo

    The 2016 US Scholastic kids and family reading report showed that although children's reading enjoyment has been 'fairly steady' since 2010, it is significantly lower among children aged 12–14.

    Some reported contributing factors are:

    • lack of motivation
    • negative attitudes to reading (readers are boring, reading is boring)
    • peer pressure
    • lack of reading skills and subsequent low self-efficacy
    • lack of choice and lack of appropriate high-interest resources
    • other distractions.

    Research evidence on reading for pleasure (pdf, 364KB) — UK Department of Education, Education Standards Research Team, 2012.

    Scholastic kids and family reading report

    Reading for pleasure decreases with age

    Reading for enjoyment tends to decrease with age. And, children from lower socio-economic groups do it less than children from higher socio-economic groups.

    Boys spend less time reading for pleasure than girls

    The OECD's report The ABC of Gender Equality in Education states that one reason boys may be lower achievers than girls is that they are less likely to read outside school for pleasure. Other reasons include:

    • their attitude to homework and school
    • they are more likely to spend time online – gaming and on the internet.

    The ABC of gender equality in education (pdf, 4.8MB)

    Reluctant readers

  • Reading for pleasure has decreased over time

    Reading for enjoyment has decreased over time. Between 2000 and 2009, on average across OECD countries, daily reading for enjoyment dropped 5 percentile points, accompanied by a related decrease in positive attitudes towards reading. (OECD 2010, PIRLS, 2006, as cited by Research evidence on reading for pleasure, Educational Standards Research Team, UK, 2012).

    Reading should not be presented to children as a chore or duty. It should be offered to them as a precious gift.
    — Kate DiCamillo

    The 2016 US Scholastic kids and family reading report showed that although children's reading enjoyment has been 'fairly steady' since 2010, it is significantly lower among children aged 12–14.

    Some reported contributing factors are:

    • lack of motivation
    • negative attitudes to reading (readers are boring, reading is boring)
    • peer pressure
    • lack of reading skills and subsequent low self-efficacy
    • lack of choice and lack of appropriate high-interest resources
    • other distractions.

    Research evidence on reading for pleasure (pdf, 364KB) — UK Department of Education, Education Standards Research Team, 2012.

    Scholastic kids and family reading report

    Reading for pleasure decreases with age

    Reading for enjoyment tends to decrease with age. And, children from lower socio-economic groups do it less than children from higher socio-economic groups.

    Boys spend less time reading for pleasure than girls

    The OECD's report The ABC of Gender Equality in Education states that one reason boys may be lower achievers than girls is that they are less likely to read outside school for pleasure. Other reasons include:

    • their attitude to homework and school
    • they are more likely to spend time online – gaming and on the internet.

    The ABC of gender equality in education (pdf, 4.8MB)

    Reluctant readers

  • Engage children with reading

    Research points to certain factors that increase the likelihood of creating engaged readers.

    Choice relates to motivation

    Choice, interest and motivation are highly related. Surveys internationally suggest most children are more likely to read for pleasure if they can choose their own books (Gambrell, 1996, as cited in Clark & Rumbold, 2006 ). But, as Clark & Rumbold, 2006, state 'To affect reading behaviour they must subsequently choose to read that book over any other available activity'.

    Access to books is essential

    Lack of availability of high-interest reading material is cited by students as one of the reasons they don’t read for enjoyment. Having books in the home, or books of their own has a major impact.

    Children with books of their own read more, and more frequently. Library membership is positively co-related with reading frequency. Students who are members of a library are twice as likely to read at home. Non-library users are 3 times more likely to only read at school, or to state they can’t find a book to read.

    Impact of reading frequency and duration

    There is a positive relationship between attitude to reading, reading attainment and reading frequency. In a survey of 17,000 students (Clark & Douglas, 2011) students who were reading above their expected age read more than those reading below their expected age. 1/10 of students who stated they read rarely or never scored above their age, as compared with 1/3 of students who stated they read daily.

    Anderson, Wilson and Fielding (1988) found that the amount of time spent in independent reading was the best predictor of the amount of gain made in reading achievement between the ages of 8 and 11.

    Relationships and role models, at school and at home

    Reading for pleasure at school is strongly influenced by relationships between teachers and children, and children and families (Cremin et al, 2000 as cited by Clark & Rumbold, 2006). Parents are influential in developing early reading for enjoyment, and if books are valued from a young age, this is likely to continue.

    "Research has repeatedly shown that parental involvement in their child’s literacy practices is a more powerful force than family background and variables such as social class, family size, and level of parental education."
    — National Literacy Trust, Reading For Pleasure Executive Summary, Nov, 2006

    We need to take a collective and collaborative approach across school and community.

    "In order to reap the benefits that reading for pleasure can bring, schools need to implement a reading programme that will make reading an experience that is actively sought out by children."
    — Reading for pleasure, what we know works, Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.

    In 2012, in recognition of the importance of reading for pleasure in developing literacy, Ofsted in the UK implemented the requirement for schools to 'develop policies to promote reading for enjoyment'. Any school that wishes to be judged outstanding needs to demonstrate strategies that encourage 'reading widely and often across all subjects'.

    Reading for pleasure: A research overview — National Literacy Trust

    Reading for pleasure, what we know works (pdf, 898KB) — Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.

  • Engage children with reading

    Research points to certain factors that increase the likelihood of creating engaged readers.

    Choice relates to motivation

    Choice, interest and motivation are highly related. Surveys internationally suggest most children are more likely to read for pleasure if they can choose their own books (Gambrell, 1996, as cited in Clark & Rumbold, 2006 ). But, as Clark & Rumbold, 2006, state 'To affect reading behaviour they must subsequently choose to read that book over any other available activity'.

    Access to books is essential

    Lack of availability of high-interest reading material is cited by students as one of the reasons they don’t read for enjoyment. Having books in the home, or books of their own has a major impact.

    Children with books of their own read more, and more frequently. Library membership is positively co-related with reading frequency. Students who are members of a library are twice as likely to read at home. Non-library users are 3 times more likely to only read at school, or to state they can’t find a book to read.

    Impact of reading frequency and duration

    There is a positive relationship between attitude to reading, reading attainment and reading frequency. In a survey of 17,000 students (Clark & Douglas, 2011) students who were reading above their expected age read more than those reading below their expected age. 1/10 of students who stated they read rarely or never scored above their age, as compared with 1/3 of students who stated they read daily.

    Anderson, Wilson and Fielding (1988) found that the amount of time spent in independent reading was the best predictor of the amount of gain made in reading achievement between the ages of 8 and 11.

    Relationships and role models, at school and at home

    Reading for pleasure at school is strongly influenced by relationships between teachers and children, and children and families (Cremin et al, 2000 as cited by Clark & Rumbold, 2006). Parents are influential in developing early reading for enjoyment, and if books are valued from a young age, this is likely to continue.

    "Research has repeatedly shown that parental involvement in their child’s literacy practices is a more powerful force than family background and variables such as social class, family size, and level of parental education."
    — National Literacy Trust, Reading For Pleasure Executive Summary, Nov, 2006

    We need to take a collective and collaborative approach across school and community.

    "In order to reap the benefits that reading for pleasure can bring, schools need to implement a reading programme that will make reading an experience that is actively sought out by children."
    — Reading for pleasure, what we know works, Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.

    In 2012, in recognition of the importance of reading for pleasure in developing literacy, Ofsted in the UK implemented the requirement for schools to 'develop policies to promote reading for enjoyment'. Any school that wishes to be judged outstanding needs to demonstrate strategies that encourage 'reading widely and often across all subjects'.

    Reading for pleasure: A research overview — National Literacy Trust

    Reading for pleasure, what we know works (pdf, 898KB) — Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.

  • Find out more

    Competent learners @14 the growing independence report — (NZCER, 2006).

    Competent learners @16 project, on the edge of adulthood — (NZCER, 2009).

    Do students today read for pleasure — OECD (2011), PISA in focus series.

    The joy and power of reading — Scholastic's website on reading includes the Joy and Power of Reading a comprehensive summary of research.

    Literature Review: The impact of reading for pleasure and empowerment (pdf, 999KB) — The Reading Agency, June 2015.

    Progress in International reading literacy (PIRLS) 2006 International Report

    PIRLS 2010/11 in New Zealand: An overview of findings from the third cycle of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study — Education Counts

    PIRLS 2011 International Results in Reading — summarises fourth-grade student achievement in each of the 49 countries and nine benchmarking entities which participated in PIRLS and pre-PIRLS (2011).

    PISA Low-Performing Students: why they fall behind and how to help them to succeed — OECD (2015) report.

    Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 key findings (PISA) 2009 key findings

    Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 results — OECD (2012).

    Reading for pleasure: research impact case study 2015 (pdf, 1.74MB) — Institute of Education.

    Reading for Pleasure — National Union For Teachers, UK provides ideas on activities for focusing on reading for pleasure in the class and school.

    Reading for pleasure, what we know works (pdf, 898KB) — Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.

    Reading: the facts — by Canada's National reading Campaign outlines the benefits of reading in all aspects of life, along with a comprehensive list of research.

    Research evidence on reading for pleasure — Education standards research team, UK Government, May 2012. 

    Trends in reading — OECD (2011–12).

    What reading does for the mind — ResearchGate, article by Anne E. Cunningham and Keith E. Stanovich.

    Books

    Anderson, R. C., Wilson, P.T. and Fielding, L. G. (1988). Growth in reading and how children spend their
    time outside of school
    . Reading Research Quarterly, 23, 285-303.

    Chambers, Aidan. (1996). Tell me. Thimble Press, Lockwood, South Woodchester, England.

    Chambers, Aidan. (1991). The reading environment. Thimble Press, Lockwood, South Woodchester, England.

    Clark, C. (2011). Setting the Baseline: The National Literacy Trust’s first annual survey into reading - 2010. London: National Literacy Trust.

    Clark, C. and Douglas, J. (2011). Young People’s Reading and Writing An in-depth study focusing on enjoyment, behaviour, attitudes and attainment. National Literacy Trust

    Krashen, S. (1993). The Power of Reading. Englewood, Col.: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.

    La Marca, Susan, and MacIntyre, Pam. (2006). Knowing readers: unlocking the pleasures of reading. School Library Association of Victoria, Australia.

    Layne, Stephen. (2009). Igniting a passion for reading: successful strategies for building lifetime readers. Stenhouse Publishers, US.

    Miller, Donalyn & Kelley, Susan. (2014). Reading in the wild: the Book Whisperer’s keys to cultivating lifelong reading habits. Jossey-Bass, One Montgomery Street, San Francisco, US.

    Wilhelm, J. & Smith, M. (2013). Reading unbound: Why kids need to read what they want—and why we should let them. New York: Scholastic.

  • Find out more

    Competent learners @14 the growing independence report — (NZCER, 2006).

    Competent learners @16 project, on the edge of adulthood — (NZCER, 2009).

    Do students today read for pleasure — OECD (2011), PISA in focus series.

    The joy and power of reading — Scholastic's website on reading includes the Joy and Power of Reading a comprehensive summary of research.

    Literature Review: The impact of reading for pleasure and empowerment (pdf, 999KB) — The Reading Agency, June 2015.

    Progress in International reading literacy (PIRLS) 2006 International Report

    PIRLS 2010/11 in New Zealand: An overview of findings from the third cycle of the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study — Education Counts

    PIRLS 2011 International Results in Reading — summarises fourth-grade student achievement in each of the 49 countries and nine benchmarking entities which participated in PIRLS and pre-PIRLS (2011).

    PISA Low-Performing Students: why they fall behind and how to help them to succeed — OECD (2015) report.

    Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009 key findings (PISA) 2009 key findings

    Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012 results — OECD (2012).

    Reading for pleasure: research impact case study 2015 (pdf, 1.74MB) — Institute of Education.

    Reading for Pleasure — National Union For Teachers, UK provides ideas on activities for focusing on reading for pleasure in the class and school.

    Reading for pleasure, what we know works (pdf, 898KB) — Centre for Literacy in Primary Education.

    Reading: the facts — by Canada's National reading Campaign outlines the benefits of reading in all aspects of life, along with a comprehensive list of research.

    Research evidence on reading for pleasure — Education standards research team, UK Government, May 2012. 

    Trends in reading — OECD (2011–12).

    What reading does for the mind — ResearchGate, article by Anne E. Cunningham and Keith E. Stanovich.

    Books

    Anderson, R. C., Wilson, P.T. and Fielding, L. G. (1988). Growth in reading and how children spend their
    time outside of school
    . Reading Research Quarterly, 23, 285-303.

    Chambers, Aidan. (1996). Tell me. Thimble Press, Lockwood, South Woodchester, England.

    Chambers, Aidan. (1991). The reading environment. Thimble Press, Lockwood, South Woodchester, England.

    Clark, C. (2011). Setting the Baseline: The National Literacy Trust’s first annual survey into reading - 2010. London: National Literacy Trust.

    Clark, C. and Douglas, J. (2011). Young People’s Reading and Writing An in-depth study focusing on enjoyment, behaviour, attitudes and attainment. National Literacy Trust

    Krashen, S. (1993). The Power of Reading. Englewood, Col.: Libraries Unlimited, Inc.

    La Marca, Susan, and MacIntyre, Pam. (2006). Knowing readers: unlocking the pleasures of reading. School Library Association of Victoria, Australia.

    Layne, Stephen. (2009). Igniting a passion for reading: successful strategies for building lifetime readers. Stenhouse Publishers, US.

    Miller, Donalyn & Kelley, Susan. (2014). Reading in the wild: the Book Whisperer’s keys to cultivating lifelong reading habits. Jossey-Bass, One Montgomery Street, San Francisco, US.

    Wilhelm, J. & Smith, M. (2013). Reading unbound: Why kids need to read what they want—and why we should let them. New York: Scholastic.

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