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Mougins School

The Learning Curve

The immeasurable benefits of reading for pleasure
  • Secondary Matters
Zoe Jones

Reading for pleasure, often overshadowed by academic pressures, plays a vital role in the development and well-being of our young people. For many of our children, the association of reading with exams and school requirements can diminish their interest in picking up a book. However, by refocusing reading as an enjoyable and self-directed activity, linked to personal interests and hobbies, we can help rekindle their love for books.

Reading for pleasure involves the selection of materials based on personal enjoyment rather than for assessment purposes. This kind of reading can significantly enhance literacy skills and contribute to growth and attainment in various academic areas. Whether its graphic novels, non-fiction, how-to books, magazines or something else, there really is something for everyone in the world of books.

As children transition from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’, the encouragement to read for pleasure often diminishes. Once they acquire independent reading skills, parents and teachers might inadvertently convey that reading is no longer as important. However, maintaining the habit of reading for pleasure is crucial for continued literacy development. Regular engagement with reading supports students in developing a strong foundation in literacy, which is essential for building vocabulary and ensuring effective communication in everyday life. Regular readers tend to have a richer vocabulary and better reading comprehension compared to their non-reading peers. 

Encouraging young people to read involves helping them find the right books and fostering a love for reading. Here are some strategies to support this:

  • Allow Teens to Choose Their Books: When visiting bookstores or libraries, let children make their own selections. A bookstore gift certificate can empower them to choose books that interest them. Setting aside a time to visit a library can also be an enjoyable activity that gives children autonomy over their reading choices.
  • Build on Interests: Find books related to their favourite sports, hobbies, or TV shows. Subscriptions to special interest magazines can also be a great motivator. Don’t worry about the ‘literary value’ of what your child is reading, as any reading material, including comics, helps to build reading skills, especially if it is a genre they are interested in.
  • Use digital tools to your advantage: Promoting Online Book Communities, such as participation in platforms like Goodreads or #BookTok on TikTok can help children to find book recommendations and discussions. Also, reading is a habit, and as long as children are in the habit of picking up something to read, it doesn't really matter what or how they are reading. Allowing young people to read on an electronic device, such as a kindle, may be a reading format that they prefer. 

Reading skills, like any other skill, can deteriorate if not regularly practised. Literacy skills can decline over summer when children do not engage in regular reading. The summer holidays are a great time for children to begin to read for pleasure and take the time to find a genre that interests them.

By dedicating time and effort to encourage young people to read, we are helping them develop into lifelong readers. This not only supports their academic success but also enriches their personal lives, opening up new worlds and perspectives through the power of books.

Zoé Jones
EAL teacher, English as an Additional Language 

  • Secondary