Is “Engaged Reading Time” in Schools Key in the Encouragement of Reading for Pleasure?

Engage, Inform, Inspire

Is “engaged reading time” in schools key in the encouragement of reading for pleasure?

As regular readers of this blog will know, here at News Mag Media, we’re passionate about reading for pleasure as we are well aware of the amazing benefits that reading brings to both children and adults of all ages. 

However, reading isn’t seen as a priority by everyone and a recent article in the UK newspaper, The Guardian, has reported that, for the first time since 2008 (apart from the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic), the 2024 ‘What Kids Are Reading Report’ – which surveyed 1.2 million children across the UK and Ireland – found a 4.4% decline in the number of books read by children, with the sharpest decline being found in the reading habits of older secondary school children.

The results were analysed by Keith Topping from the University of Dundee who said: “There are a number of possible reasons for the decline, but the high number of pupils persistently absent from school post-Covid is likely to be the biggest factor.” 

Interestingly, there was a link between higher reading attainment and the amount of reading time spent in school. “Engaged reading time” of more than 30 minutes a day had a positive impact on pupils’ reading ability. 

So, is this the key? Should schools be devoting more time to reading in school itself? Maybe this is a tricky one, especially when teachers already have so many demands and pressures on their time. However, could “engaged reading time” be brought into the curriculum and become a natural part of the school day, rather than an ‘extra’ that has to be squeezed in? After all, it’s easy to see the benefits:

  1. Peer-to-peer support and encouragement – this is especially important for reluctant readers.
  2. Reading becomes a group activity.
  3. Pupils inspiring their fellow classmates.
  4. Pupils being introduced to books by their friends that they may never have considered or known about before.
  5. If allowed freedom with reading material (age appropriate, of course), pupils would be able to express themselves through their reading habits.
  6. No matter what their reading level, there could be opportunities for pupils’ reading habits to be championed and for all pupils to be made to feel good about their own reading.
  7. Enhances pupils’ well-being.

So, what do you think? Should “engaged reading” be made a top priority in schools? Could it be something that would enhance the future of all pupils? After all, the advantages of reading for pleasure are widely known, so if schools were given the opportunity to make reading a top priority for pupils, then surely that can only be a positive move?


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