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Reading by Children
Seminal research:
Elley and Mangubhai found reading significantly increased the reading achievement of children. They studied 614 children (380 in the experimental groups and 234 in the control group) in 4th and 5th grade classrooms in rural Fijian schools with very few books. The researchers provided 250 high-interest, illustrated story books in English per classroom to the experimental groups. The control group continued to use the on-going English language program that put little emphasis on reading. Eight of the 16 experimental classrooms had sustained silent reading (time set aside in class for children to read books of their choice). The other 8 experimental classrooms had the Shared Book Experience (also called shared reading, a teaching technique where the teacher points to the print in full view of the children while reading to the children).

They found that after eight months, the pupils in the two experimental groups progressed in reading comprehension at twice the rate of the comparison group (p<.001).

    Elley, W.B., & Mangubhai, F. (1983). The impact of reading on second language learning. Reading Research Quarterly, XIX, 53-67.
Replication research:
  • Anderson, Wilson, and Fielding found the amount of time children spend reading predicts their reading achievement. They had 155 fifth-grade children in 7 classrooms write every day on activity forms how many minutes they spent on a wide range of out-of-school activities.
  • They found among all the ways children spend their time, reading books was the best predictor of several measures of reading achievement, including gains in reading achievement between second and fifth grade.

    They also found that the teacher has a significant influence on the amount of book reading children do outside of school. The class that read the most averaged 16.5 minutes per day, whereas the class that read the least averaged 4.1 minutes per day.

      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, XXIII, 3, 285-303.

  • Taylor, Frye, and Maruyama found the amount of children time spend reading is significantly related to their gains in reading achievement. They had 164 fifth- and six-grade children keep daily reading logs on their reading at home and at school over a four-month period.
  • They found that the amount of time spent reading during reading period in school contributed significantly to gains in students' reading achievement as measured by reading comprehension scores on the Gates-MacGinitie Reading Test (p<.039) while time spent reading at home approached significance (p<.068).

      Taylor, B.M., Frye, B.J., & Maruyama, G.M. (1990). Time spent reading and reading growth. American Educational Research Journal, 27, 2, 351-362.

  • Elley found the time children spend reading is related to their achievement levels in reading. He studied the reading achievement of over 200,000 children in 32 countries.

    Elley found that they amount of voluntary out-of-school book reading that students report is positively related to their achievement levels in reading.

      Elley, W.B. (1992). How in the World Do Students Read? The IEA Study of Reading Literacy. The Hague, the Netherlands: International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement.

  • The 1992 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found the amount of time children spend reading is related to their achievement levels in reading. NAEP, a large, federally-funded research, studied the out-of-school reading habits of fourth-grade children in 42 U.S. states.
  • The NAEP found that students who read for fun almost every day outside of school scored higher on the NAEP assessment of reading achievement than children who read for fun only once or twice a week, who in turn outscored children who read for fun outside of school only once or twice a month, who in turn, outscored children who hardly ever or never read for fun outside of school (p. 38).

      Mullis, I., Campbell, J., & Farstrup, A. (1993). NAEP 1992 Reading Report Card for the Nation and the States. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Education Statistics.
(See also Access to Engaging, Age-Appropriate Books.)
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