Encouraging Independent Reading in Classrooms and Beyond

By Laura Robb on April 11, 2012
  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

I have an ambitious goal for classroom libraries in grades 4 to 10: Seven hundred to one thousand books in English or reading workshop classes. Two hundred fifty to three hundred in social studies and science and about one hundred fifty in physical education and fine arts classes. In addition to excellent reading instruction, students make progress in reading by developing a personal reading life.  Remember, independent reading should be the student’s choice and the reading should be 99% to 100% accurate with decoding and comprehension. It’s what you take on vacation or read on weekends—easy, enjoyable, and gripping because you chose the book. To progress with comprehension and the ability to infer and analyze reading material, students should read thirty to sixty books a year. 

Some teachers avoid including a rigorous independent reading curriculum because they feel that students have to do a project on every completed book. My response to them is, “Do you do a project on every book you read?”  One book talk, book review, or a conference a month is enough. However, students need to log their reading onto a “Reading Log.”

What’s your take on classroom libraries and independent reading?

Are libraries well-stocked in primary and middle grades but lacking in middle and high school? How can we give all students access to books?

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