What is ‘reading for pleasure’? According to the National Literacy Trust it is…
“Reading we do of our own free will, anticipating the satisfaction we will get from the act of reading”.
whilst the Reading Agency refers to it as “reading that takes place voluntarily: the reader choosing what and when to read”.
But basically it means any reading that is done primarily for enjoyment. It encompasses a wide range of genres and publications, and includes both fiction and non-fiction, print and digital materials.
Research has shown how developing a love of reading is important for children’s life chances. We know that there is strong evidence that links reading for pleasure and educational outcomes, and whilst there is no doubt academic attainment is of vital importance for our pupils, the benefits of reading for pleasure go well beyond school stretching throughout adulthood. Research has found that reading for pleasure can result in increased empathy, improved relationships with others, reductions in stress levels and improved wellbeing. Little wonder then that the main aim of every school librarian is to encourage in every child a love of reading so that they become readers for life. But just because someone is able to read does not mean that he or she will choose to do so. In fact research is accumulating that suggests that a growing number of young people do not read for pleasure, particularly boys; and yet there is no doubt that reading for pleasure benefits a child’s educational and personal development.
A research report written on behalf of the National Literacy Trust by Christina Clark and Kate Rumbold reminds us that reading for pleasure has a beneficial effect on:
reading attainment and writing ability
text comprehension and grammar
breadth of vocabulary
positive reading attitudes
greater self-confidence as a reader
pleasure reading in later life.
The Reading Agency has also produced a framework (2016) of all the benefits that people can derive from reading for pleasure. Their reading outcomes framework is available here.
What do children and young people read? Research shows that children read a diverse range of materials outside class, incorporating many not traditionally regarded by schools as acceptable reading matter! For example, if you ask pupils what types of materials they read outside school, magazines, websites, text messages, jokes and books/magazines about popular TV programmes often emerge as popular reading choices. Reading emails, fiction, comics and newspapers are also popular choices. As librarians we have to encourage and respect these reading choices and develop them by providing a wide range of reading material, not always print-based, in order to hook our children into reading.
The Reading Agency has produced a Reading Outcomes Framework Toolkit which has been developed to help librarians understand the difference that we make when we work to encourage reading for pleasure. It outlines existing evidence about the outcomes of reading and provides guidance about how to go about collecting evidence on the impact our work has. Evaluating this impact is vitally important: we need to be clear about how reading for pleasure impacts on children’s lives and how our library programmes and activities contribute to this. The reading outcomes framework toolkit is an interactive pdf available here. It is best accessed using Adobe Acrobat Reader on a PC. A print- friendly version is also available here.
The information in this “Reading” section provides a range of ideas, resources and strategies which will help us to promote reading for pleasure! See section on “Policies & Planning” should you wish to create a Reading for Pleasure Policy