Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers, according to new research from the Institute of Education (IOE).
Fascinating conclusions regarding the importance of PLEASURE in reading. Not only does this research-based long-term study indicate that reading for pleasure puts children ahead in the classroom, it specifically includes in the maths classrooms.
I was taken aback to discover that "The IOE study, ... is believed to be the first to examine the effect of reading for pleasure on cognitive development over time,.."
How could that be? If reading for pleasure's impact on one's educational success has never been studied before, might this indicate an incredible lack of understanding of the role of literary reading in a curriculum? And if so, doesn't this demand another look at how we assess success in literary reading?
My concern though is that one of the most destructive defaults behind current attitudes regarding literary reading is that reading for pleasure is NOT REALLY a pragmatic / practical skill set, but rather little more than a pleasure pursuit when one is NOT on the job or is on vacation seeking some sort of escape from what is really important important in the "real world."
And therefore reading fiction may be insufficiently respected by too many of those who believe that if it can't be specifically measured in terms of a specific skill-set, it can't be important. Yet not being able to just toss literature out of the curriculum given its lock on curriculum design since prehistoric times and long before mandatory education was ever conceived, the "best" they can do is ignore literary reading's best selling point i.e., engaging power and focus upon scholarly analysis (advanced literacy skills), a practice that may be more disengaging than engaging. And thereby, in unintended ways demoting literary reading to the position of one of our curriculum's "ugly step-sisters." And, though any reading of Cinderella tells us that the problem may be in the hands of those who mistreated Cinderella than in any shortcomings in Cinderella herself.
Here's another couple of those rhetorical (test) questions:
Q: List as many countries and / or cultures that have their own version (not merely a translation) of the Cinderella story?
Q: Why would the essential lessons of Cinderella be represented in that many cultures?
HINT: It's NOT because it provides an escape from what is important in the real world.
I can't help but think that an unaddressed, yet critical problem with our current attempts to assess learning is that there are those who think of reading for pleasure as having little more value in a curriculum designed to prepare for young people for success in "college and career" than candy has in a nutritious diet.
Perhaps we might remember why we candy-coat children's medicine. It AIN'T the candy coating that relieves the pain. It's the medicine.
And, it's the candy coating that creates receptivity to that pain relieving medicine that replaces resistance to swallowing life's often bitter pills.
Both candy coated pills and bitter pills can "do the job." But only if taken. And, we all know the problem there.
"Google Lit Trips" is the official business name of GLT Global ED, an educational nonprofit