Read, Read, Read
“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” -Victor Hugo
In the Lower School we challenge students to increase their independent reading time. Students are invited to earn a spot in our 500 Club each month by reading 500 plus minutes. Alumni visit our monthly reading assemblies to share their passion for reading with our students and to explain how reading inspired them pursue their professions. Our alumni always discuss their favorite books they read when in Lower School. Faculty members and students also share books they love to read. Our goal is to inspire students to read for fun, and to discover reading as a way to answer their own questions and explore their own interests.
We are passionate about promoting reading for many obvious reasons:
- Reading makes you smarter. It builds crystallized intelligence. Crystallized intelligence is measured by a person's depth and breadth of general knowledge, vocabulary, and ability to reason using numbers and words. The more we learn, the more dendrites in our brains grow to make connections. The brain is like a muscle that needs exercise to grow, and reading is the perfect cognitive exercise. For more information about how reading makes you smarter, enjoy this Youtube video by Dr. Keith Stanovich:
- Reading builds students’ vocabularies. Research indicates students should ideally add approximately 2,000 to 3,500 words every year to their reading vocabularies (Anderson & Nagy, 1992; Anglin, 1993; Beck & McKeown, 1991; White et al., 1990). Researchers have also found no more the 8 to 10 words can be taught effectively each week in the classroom, equaling roughly 400 words a year. How do students learn the 2,600 additional words? The answer is “. . . through exposure to and interaction with increasingly complex and rich oral language and by encountering lots of new words in text, either through their own rea ding or by being read to (National Reading Panel, 2000).”
- Reading develops students’ imaginations. New ideas, creatures, and locations spark our own new creations and ideas. Also, as we read, our minds create our own personalized movie of the setting and characters.
- Reading invites students to “step into shoes of others.” Our imaginations allow us to become one of the characters in the book as we read. “It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish,” says S. I. Hayakawa.
- Reading makes it possible for students to seek out information and educate themselves, facilitating a lifetime of learning.
- Reading makes us better writers. Stephen King said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” For more information on the connection between reading and writing, look at the blog “Want to Be a Better Writer? Read More” by Mike Hanski
Here are some interesting facts to consider:
Student A: reads 1 minute per day; 180 minutes per year; 8,000 words per year; usually averages in the 10th percentile on standardized testing.
Student B: reads 5 minutes per day; 900 minutes a year; 282,000 words per year; usually averages in the 50th percentile on standardized testing.
Student C: reads 20 minutes per day; 36,000 minutes a year; 1,8000,000 words per year; usually averages in the 90th percentile on standardized testing.
One of the greatest rewards of teaching is sharing the gift of reading and great literature with students. Reading is a crucial element in the foundation of a liberal arts education. We are excited to watch the passion for reading grow in our young learners, and we recognize and appreciate the collaboration between home and school that fuels this passion for reading.