Free Voluntary Reading (FVR)
“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” --Joseph Addison
Is there really a reading crisis?
- The percentage of 17-year-olds who read nothing at all for pleasure has doubled over a 20-year period, from 9% in 1984 to 19% in 2004; yet, the amount they read for school (15 or fewer pages daily for 62% of students) has stayed the same (NEA 2007).
- Recently, the ACT released a College Readiness report on reading in which they reported that “only about half of our nation’s ACT-tested high school students are ready for college-level reading” (ACT 2006).
- Less than half (48%) of the adult [American] population now reads literature for pleasure. This decline in reading literature occurs across all ages, sexes and races. The decline is most pronounced among the young (NEA 2007).
- The average adult American reads only four books in an entire year; of the adults who read, their average was seven books, but 25 percent of the respondents did not read a book at all (Fram 2007, Qtd. in Miller 2009).
Why can’t we just assign recreational reading for homework?
- Underclassmen frequently express how overwhelmed they are by their homework and assessment loads.
- The average student spends 7.5 hours per day outside of school on media (Common Sense Media 2013).
- The most popular activity for teens is social media, like Facebook and Instagram (Common Sense Media 2013).
- The average teen sends 3500 texts per month (Common Sense Media 2013).
What can we do to counteract reading poverty?
- Give students time in class for recreational reading. Here’s why...
- “Stephen Krashen, respected researcher, activist, and author of The Power of Reading, identifies fifty-one studies that prove that students in free-reading programs perform better than or equal to students in any other type of reading program” (Miller 2009).
- In school, free voluntary reading (FVR) results in better reading comprehension, writing style, vocabulary, spelling, grammatical development (Krashen 2004).
- “Reading itself promotes reading. A consistent finding in in-school free reading studies is that children who participate in these programs are more involved in free voluntary reading after the program ends that those in traditional programs” (Krashen 2004).
- Give students opportunities to share their reading experiences with their peers and teachers via Goodreads.com, book clubs, and student-teacher conferences. Here’s why...
- Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer, claims that “[a]nyone who calls himself or herself a reader can tell you that it starts with encountering great books, heartfelt recommendations, and a community of readers who share this passion” (2009).
- Students’ reading choices are heavily influenced by what their peers are reading (Krashen 2004).
- Lundberg and Linnakyla (2004) expose the link between teachers who model recreational reading and students’ reading achievement.
The nitty gritty…
The correlation between time spent reading and performance on standardized reading tests (Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding 1998; Qtd. in Gallagher 2009).
Minutes of Reading per Day
Estimated Number of Words Read per Year
Gallagher, Kelly, and Richard L. Allington. Readicide: How Schools Are Killing Reading and
What You Can Do about It. Portland, Me.: Stenhouse, 2009. Print.
Krashen, Stephen D. The Power of Reading: Insights from the Research. Westport, CT:
Libraries Unlimited, 2004. Print.
Miller, Donalyn, and Jeff Anderson. The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in
Every Child. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Print.
National Endowment for the Arts. 2007. To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National
Consequence. Research Division Report 47. Washington, D.C.: National Endowment
for the Arts. Available online at http://www.nea.gov/research/ToRead.pdf.