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The Value of Reading

Read A Message From Our Chairman

Learning, discovery and imagination at play. Scholastic's mission is built on that
special moment a child finds the right book to read. When once-upon-a-time
becomes the only time that matters, and a child who reads becomes a child who
loves to read - for a lifetime. We are dedicated to helping every child make that
precious, transformative moment his or her very own - again and again.

We believe that just as independent reading is a critical part of every child's learning
and growth, finding the right book at the right time is an important first step in their
individual development. With support from teachers, parents and schools,
children choose from Scholastic the books they want to read, and in doing
so, they empower themselves with their own choices.

The right book is a key.
It opens a world of greater understanding,
self-motivation, and joy.

It opens a world of possible.

The Scholastic Possible Fund

Through the Scholastic Possible Fund, children around the world have
received millions of books with the help of our dedicated partners.

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Nurturing a love of reading comes naturally when we rely on
good research to guide us. Here are five important issues related
to children's literacy development—and evidence supporting
the importance of each one.

Reading volume is defined as the combination of time students spend reading plus the number of words they actually consume as they read (Allington, 2012). This combination affects everything from students’ cognitive abilities to their vocabulary development and knowledge of the world (Cunningham & Zibulsky, 2013).

In “one of the most extensive studies of independent reading yet conducted,” Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding (1988) traced reading growth to independent reading and reading volume. They found that the amount of time students spent in independent reading outside of school was the best predictor of reading achievement. The chart below reveals the results of the study. Note the number of words students consume during independent reading—and the enormous differences in reading volume between higher- and lower-achieving students. Viewed across a year, we can immediately see the striking differences in reading achievement between the high-volume readers, who read more than an hour outside of school, and those students who avoid reading.

Keep in mind that children spend 900 hours a year in school versus 7,800 hours outside school (Trelease, 2013). Ideally, students are reading both in school and out. The Scholastic Kids & Family Reading ReportTM: Fifth Edition found that children are more likely to read outside of school if they are reading a book for fun in school. One influences the other, creating a field force of reading energy!

Allington, D. (2012). What really matters for struggling readers: Designing research-based programs. Boston: Pearson.
Anderson, R. C., Wilson P.T., Fielding, L.G. (1988). “Growth in reading and how children spend their time outside of school.” Reading Research Quarterly, No.23, pp.285-303.
Cunningham, A. & Zibulsky, J. (2013). Book smart: How to develop and support successful, motivated readers. New York: Oxford University Press.
Scholastic Kids & Family Reading ReportTM: Fifth Edition commissioned by Scholastic and conducted by YouGov; 2014.
Trelease, J. (2013). The read-aloud handbook (Seventh edition). New York: Penguin Group.

Variation in Amount of Independent Reading

The Scholastic Kids & Family Reading ReportTM: Fifth Edition confirms what we’ve long known: independent reading, both at school and at home, builds successful readers. What’s more, the research shows that giving students a say in what they read is key. And from our experience, we also know that frequent reading creates proficient readers who thrive personally and academically.

The report adds to the abundant data we’ve had for years that demonstrates that in-school independent reading centered on reading books for fun creates kids who love to read. Seventy-eight percent of children ages 12-17 who are frequent readers (defined by the report as kids who read books for fun five to seven times a week) reported that they have the opportunity to read a book of choice independently during the school day. Only 24 percent of infrequent readers—those reading for fun less than one day a week—say the same. In addition, 91 percent of children ages 6-17 agree that “my favorite books are the ones that I have picked out myself.” It’s clear that independent reading programs that invite reading choice and promote reading pleasure give rise to kids who not only read but also, more important, kids who want to read.

Some of the first research linking choice to reading pleasure dates back to the 1970s in a report titled They Love to Read by Dr. John W. Studebaker. The report showed that among kids who chose their own books through Scholastic Book Clubs, the majority read those books from cover-to-cover. Parents reported that their children were “much more likely” to finish reading books they bought for themselves in contrast to books selected for them.

Readers are most engaged with their reading—and derive the most pleasure from it—when they are able to follow their own reading interests and shape their own reading lives, a key finding also of the research conducted by Jeff Wilhelm and Michael Smith, documented in their book Reading Unbound.

Scholastic Kids & Family Reading ReportTM: Fifth Edition commissioned by Scholastic and conducted by YouGov; 2014.
Studebaker, J. (1977). The Love to read: Report on a study of paperback book clubs in classrooms of five cities. New York: Scholastic.
Van den Broek, P., Lynch, J., Nashlund, J., Levers-Landis, C., Verduin, K. (2003). The development of comprehension of main ideas in narratives: Evidence from the selection of titles. Journal of Educational Psychology, 95, 707-718.
Wilhelm, J. & Smith, M. (2013). Reading unbound: Why kids need to read what they want—and why we should let them. New York: Scholastic.

Children raised in homes with more than 500 books spent three years longer in school than children raised in homes with only a few books. Growing up in a household with 500 or more books is “as great an advantage as having university-educated rather than unschooled parents, and twice the advantage of having a professional rather than an unskilled father” (Evans et al., 2010).

Research suggests that children whose parents have lots of books are nearly 20 percent more likely to finish college. Indeed, as a predictor of college graduation, books in the home trump the education of the parents. Even a child who hails from a home with 25 books will, on average, complete two more years of school than would a child from a home without any books at all (Evans et al., 2010).

Regardless of how many books the family already has, each addition to a home library helps the children get a little farther in school. The gains are larger for more modest families. Children from families with less gain more in the first few years of school. Moreover, having books in the home has a greater impact on children from the least educated families than children of the university-educated elite (Evans et al., 2010).

In general, the books help establish a reading or “scholarly” culture in the home—one that persists from generation to generation within families, largely independent of education and class—creating a “taste for books” and promoting the skills and knowledge that foster both literacy and numeracy and, thus, lead to lifelong academic advantages (Evans et al., 2010).

Evans, M., Kelley, J., Sikorac, J., & Treimand, D. (2010). “Family scholarly culture and educational success: Books and schooling in 27 nations.” Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, 28, 171–197.

Parents who model their own love of reading and engage in their children’s reading—who read aloud to them, take them to the library, and talk about favorite books—help their children grow into lifelong readers. What’s more, when parents read aloud to their children during the preschool years, they are more likely to raise children who become avid readers (Scholastic, 2013).

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) recommends that pediatricians encourage parents to read aloud daily, beginning at birth (2014). Dr. Pamela High, lead author of the AAP policy, explains the aim: “… those 15-20 minutes spent reading with a child can be the best part of the day. It’s a joyful way to build child-parent relationships and set a child on the pathway to developing early literacy skills.”

“Reading aloud to your child is a commercial for reading. When you read aloud, you're whetting a child's appetite for reading. … A child who has been read to will want to learn to read herself. She will want to do what she sees her parents doing. But if a child never sees anyone pick up a book, she isn't going to have that desire” (Trelease, 2013). Plus, “children who have an enthusiastic reader as a role model may stay determined to learn to read, even when facing challenges, rather than becoming easily discouraged” (Cunningham & Zibulsky, 2013).

The read aloud is the gift that keeps on giving—leading to student gains in vocabulary (Beck & McKeown, 2001), comprehension strategies and story schema (Van den Broek, 2001), and concept development (Pinnell & Fountas, 2011).

American Academy of Pediatricians. (2014). Policy Statement. Beck, I. & McKeown, M. (2001). “Text talk: Capturing the benefits of read-aloud experiences for young children.” The Reading Teacher. Vol. 55, No. 1.
Cunningham, A. & Zibulsky, J. (2013). Book smart: How to develop and support successful, motivated readers. New York: Oxford University Press.
Pinnell, G. S. & Fountas, I. (2011). Literacy beginnings: A prekindergarten handbook. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Scholastic Kids & Family Reading ReportTM: Fourth Edition commissioned by Scholastic and conducted by YouGov; 2013.
Trelease, J. (2013). The read-aloud handbook (7th edition). New York: Penguin Books.
Every time we enter a text as a reader, we receive a writing lesson: how to spell, punctuate, use proper grammar, structure a sentence or paragraph, and organize a text. We also learn the many purposes writing serves and the different genres and formats it assumes to serve these varied purposes (Duke et al., 2013; Culham, 2014; 2012). And every time we create a text as a writer, we receive a reading lesson. Evidence shows that high-quality writing instruction can improve students' reading comprehension, reading fluency, and word-solving skills (Graham & Hebert, 2011). Writing about reading makes comprehension visible; it also helps readers frame and focus their understanding (Serravallo, 2012, 13; Graham & Perin, 2007; Graham & Hebert, 2010). Indeed, asking students to write about their reading may provide the best window into their reading process and comprehension (Serravallo, 2012; 2013; Roessing, 2009).
Culham, R. (2014). The writing thief: Using mentor texts to teach the craft of writing. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Culham, R. (2011). “Reading with a writer’s eye.” In T. Rasinski’s Rebuilding the foundation: Effective reading instruction for 21st century literacy. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Duke, N., Caughian, S., Juzwik, M., & Martin, N. (2013). Reading and writing genre with purpose in K-8 classrooms. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Graham, S. & Hebert, M. (2010). “Writing to read: A meta-analysis of the impact of writing and writing instruction on reading.” Harvard Educational Review. Vol. 81. No. 4 Winter.
Graham, S. & Perin, D, (2007) Writing next: Effective strategies to improve writing of adolescents in middle and high schools. A report to the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Roessing, L. (2009). The write to read: Response journals that increase comprehension. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Serravallo, J. (2012; 2013). Independent reading assessment: Fiction and nonfiction. New York: Scholastic.


Author Spotlight

Given the precious few hours students spend in school per year compared to how many they spend outside of school, it’s critical for them to do as much reading as possible while they’re there. But too often the typical school day is filled with kids waiting for the teacher to help them, transitioning from one subject to the next, and—and worst of all—engaging in “busy work.”

Nancie Atwell, recent winner of the acclaimed Global Teacher Prize, has created an exemplary literacy program based on the understanding that how often and how much students read is the key to developing skilled, passionate, habitual, critical readers. As Nancie herself put it in the New York Times, “It is frequent, voluminous book reading that makes readers.” In her Scholastic book, The Reading Zone, she draws on evidence gathered in thirty years of classroom teaching to establish the top ten conditions for making engaged reading possible for students at all levels and provides the practical support and structures necessary for achieving those conditions.

Curious to learn more? Here are some links:
Nancie Atwell: Reading Volume
Nancie Atwell won the first ever Global Teacher Prize, dubbed the "Nobel Prize of Teaching"
Jeffrey D. Wilhelm and Michael W. Smith ask an important, yet rarely asked question: “If we want to develop engaged and competent readers, might we not benefit from understanding the nature of reading pleasure, particularly in relation to the books that students love?” Indeed, adolescents’ pleasure reading can teach us much—and holds so many implications for instruction. When we take seriously what adolescents choose to read, and weave those choices into the curriculum, we’re more likely to wind up with more proficient, passionate readers.

In Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read What They Want—and Why We Should Let Them, Jeff and Michael explore the pleasure avid adolescent readers experience when they read genres that we all too often dismiss as “junk,” such as romance stories, vampire stories, dystopian fiction, and science fiction/fantasy. Furthermore, they offer ideas for making pleasure reading more central to the work we do to promote literacy, and discuss the benefits to students when we put those ideas into action.

Curious to learn more? Here are some links:
Jeffrey D. Wilhelm: Reading Self-Selected Books for Fun
Michael W. Smith: Reading Self-Selected Books for Fun
The evidence is clear: When children have access to books at home, they are more likely to stay in school and wind up with college degrees, regardless of their socioeconomic status and their parents’ level of education. In fact, some studies show that students who have the least gain the most when books enter their lives. Books in the home are critical. Yet the bookshelves of all too many children are as bare as Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.

Phyllis C. Hunter understands that. She has devoted her life to helping teachers, parents, and other caregivers support children’s literacy development from the moment of birth. It’s Not Complicated! What I Know for Sure About Helping Our Students of Color Become Successful Readers provides guidance in how best to serve the literacy needs of students of color. Hunter addresses pivotal understandings that every teacher, administrator, and concerned citizen should embrace, including the importance of working alongside parents and ensuring books find their way into children’s homes.

Curious to learn more? Here are some links:
Phyllis C. Hunter: Books in the Home
Whether it’s a teacher sharing a book at reading time or a parent sharing one at bedtime, reading aloud to children offers many benefits. As the more capable reader delves into the text, children see firsthand how to make meaning, figure out difficult words and passages, and enjoy the text to the fullest. In the process, they learn vocabulary, story schema, concepts of print, and comprehension strategies. But little of that will happen unless the read aloud is done well.

Acclaimed children’s author and educator Lester L. Laminack explains the value of using read alouds to help students become skilled and passionate readers and writers. Lester’s premise is simple yet potent: You can make every read aloud intentional, so the book becomes a rich opportunity for not only inspiring students with the magic of story, but also stretching them instructionally. In Unwrapping the Read Aloud, through text and video, Lester invites you to join him in reclaiming the read aloud as one of the most joyful and powerful instructional moments of the school day.

Curious to learn more? Here are some links:
Lester L. Laminack: The Power of the Read Aloud
Reading and writing are reciprocal processes. When one informs the other, the whole is far more powerful than the sum of its two parts. Yet reading and writing are separated far too frequently in classrooms today.

Enter Nell K. Duke. Her latest work from Scholastic centers on project-based instruction (PBI). With PBI, children carry out projects for real audiences and real purposes. Whether they’re writing a letter to the mayor about building a skate park, a booklet for other kids about starting their own businesses, or a pamphlet for senior citizens about the benefits of exercise, children read to gather information about their topic and write to capture that information and, ultimately, create their projects. They are passionate about the work because they know why they’re doing it and who will be reading it. They become readers and writers in the truest sense of the words.

Curious to learn more? Here are some links:
Nell K. Duke: Reading and Writing Connections

OWP Lessons

Our Partners

Children around the world have reading advocates in literacy
organizations, popular celebrities, and corporate brands. We're proud
to partner with them to help open a world of possible.

Advocacy in Action

A New Web Series
Scholastic and ASCD bring you this exciting new online learning series for educators. Renowned author, Donalyn Miller sits down with some of the biggest names in the literacy universe for in-depth conversations about the joy and power of reading. Guests include Nell K. Duke, Pam Allyn, Ernest Morrell, Anne Cunningham, and Kwame Alexander.
Advocacy in Action: Taylor Swift talks about importance of reading
Taylor Swift
In conjunction with the release of her best-selling CDs in 2010, 2012, and 2014, music superstar Taylor Swift joined Scholastic to talk about the importance of reading, writing, and imagination in three separate, widely-viewed webcasts.
Advocacy in Action: Usher’s webcast about how reading can create possibility
Global music icon Usher joined Scholastic for the launch of “Open a World of Possible”, hosting “BIGGERTHAN Words,” a live webcast about how students can open a world of possible and create lasting change through reading.
Celebrity Reading Advocates: Whoopi Goldberg
Celebrity Reading Advocates
Many celebrities, passionate about literacy, have joined Scholastic to spread the word about the power of reading through public service announcements.
Advocacy in Action: Pam Allyn is world-renowned children’s rights and literacy advocate
Pam Allyn & LitWorld 
Pam Allyn is a world-renowned children’s rights and literacy advocate, author, and motivational speaker, and the Founder and Executive Director of LitWorld, a literacy organization committed to creating positive change in the world. She is also a passionate ambassador for Scholastic’s Open a World of Possible.
Ralph Lauren Corporation
The Ralph Lauren Children’s Literacy Program supports children’s literacy and education worldwide. Twenty-five percent (25%) of the purchase price of the Ralph Lauren Literacy Capsule collection (e.g. journals, tote bags and T-shirts for the whole family) will be donated to Reach Out and Read (U.S.A. only) to provide books from the Scholastic Possible Fund to children in need.