A lot of people—teachers included—like the idea of independent reading, or as it is sometimes called, sustained silent reading (SSR). But when they see it in practice— well, it just doesn’t look like learning is supposed to look. Here’s the secret not everyone knows: independent reading is a key component of good teaching. Sure, the classroom may seem quiet, the students relaxed, but important work is going on inside the children’s heads. They are learning how to become good readers.