Shakespeare, Chaucer, Hemmingway, Orwell, Bushell. . . All literary magicians of the highest calibre and a joy to read. Hopefully, we all like to read for pleasure–but what measurable effects does reading produce? And what does it mean for our students?
Well, according to the studies mentioned below, it means a great deal.
With regards to the nature of any measurable effects that reading creates for students, then, of course, it depends what students are reading. . . When we explore this a little more carefully, we uncover some interesting and important surprises that challenge commonly held opinions about the content of some popular text-types.
The variations in the density of academic language across common text-types is quite surprising; for example, most comic books have a surprisingly high frequency of ‘high level’ language and actually force students/readers to engage with a sophisticated interface between reading images and reading several different text-types with the ‘comic’ genre (which is why I find it surprising when teachers react negatively to students who read comics! That said, reading only comics–and, of course, this goes for only reading any single genre–should be avoided, as it does little to promote vocabulary building, etc. etc.).
Anyhow, the diagram below, supplied to me by Rob Millar, illustrates the conclusions of some research about the effects of different reading habits on students. Of course, the usual health-warnings apply–and the research is a little dated (1987). That said, I suggest that it is likely to be the case that the conclusions drawn from this are as relevant today as they were then. It would be interesting to share this information with students. . .
Also, here, you can find an interesting paper about how ‘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).’
And one more for luck: