Many of my conversations with concerned parents are some variation of the “it’s the number of words” talk. Statistics from the new National Literacy Trust report bear this out.
Here’s a few:
- 8 out of 10 children who read ten or more books a month are above average readers.
- 77% of children who read for an hour or more at a time are above average readers.
- Only 4% of children who read for an hour or more at a time are below average readers.
Basically, the longer a child reads, the more practice they get, the more words they read, the more internal reinforcement they get from the process (because the more they read, the easier it gets, and the more fun it becomes).
Interestingly enough, text messaging words don’t seem to apply–or at least not as well as sitting down with a novel. Children who read text messages but not novels are twice as likely to be below average readers. More research here would be great. My hunch is that it’s not the same because texts come in little chunks rather than continuous streams, ie, try to read texts for over an hour without interruption.
Want to read more? Here’s the summary article and link to the research. Or read Jim Trelease’s take on it in The Read-Aloud Handbook on pages 142-147. (If you’ve never read Trelease, you’re in for a real treat!).