Just Six Minutes of Reading Makes All the Difference.
Being a product of the 80s, when I hear six minutes, I immediately begin reciting the 1985 smash hit, The Show, by Doug E Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew. However, in this context, six minutes refers to reading. The difference in reading habits between children who meet grade-level benchmarks and those who don’t amounts to just six minutes per day. Six additional minutes of reading per day can significantly improve kids’ reading performance. A little truly goes a long way.
“Show me a family of readers, and I will show you the people who move the world.” – Napoléon Bonaparte
Books are a centerpiece in child rearing. Parents of young children typically instill a book or two into the bedtime routine of their little ones. Preschool and elementary teachers make reading aloud, as well as independently, major portions of the school day. Class trips to the school library are cause for excitement and the school librarian is usually one of the most popular people on campus. And then kids enter middle school…
If you can’t remember the last time you saw a teenager reading a book, newspaper or magazine, you’re not alone. In recent years, less than 20 percent of U.S. teens report reading a book, magazine or newspaper daily for pleasure, while more than 80 percent say they use social media every day, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. Teenage reading statistics show that over 80% of them do not read for pleasure on a daily basis. Even with the convenience of digital media like electronic readers, there is a steep decline in reading.
The trend continues into adulthood. 27% of adults in the US did not read a single book in 2018. From 2004 to 2017, reading among American adults has dropped from an average of 23 minutes per day to 17. That is a drop of, as Doug E Fresh says, six minutes.
Some important statistics from the National Institute for Literacy, National Center for Adult Literacy, The Literacy Company, and U.S. Census Bureau underscore the critical need to address illiteracy in the United States:
- Currently, 45 million Americans are functionally illiterate and cannot read above a fifth-grade level
- 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth-grade level
- 57% of students failed the California Standards Test in English
- 1/3 of fourth-graders reach the proficient reading level
- 25% of students in California school systems are able to perform basic reading skills
- 85% of juvenile offenders have problems reading
- 3 out of 5 people in American prisons can’t read
- 3 out of 4 people on welfare can’t read
- In terms of literacy rate, the USA ranks 125th out of 194.
“The man who does not read good books is no better than the man who can’t.” – Mark Twain
In an interview with Amie Newberry, a librarian and reading enthusiast, as well as a recent guest on the ADLS podcast, Learning Reimagined, she believes good reading habits, “trickle down from the top.” and encourages her high school principal to share his reading choices with his staff and students. She continues, “The influence from our leaders is very powerful. Be it principals, bosses, or parents- leaders need to model reading.” Ms. Newberry’s expert advice aligns with documented research. “Parents’ involvement with reading activities at home has a significant positive influence not only on reading achievement, language comprehension and expressive language skills, (National Literacy Trust)) but also on children’s interest in reading and attitude towards reading.” In an article published by AdLit, All About Adolescent Literacy, the number one tip for encouraging teens to read is to set an example. Let your kids see you reading for pleasure. (Click here for the complete list.)
People who read just twenty minutes a day are exposed to almost two million words per year! Teenagers who read in their leisure time know 26% more words than those who don’t. Reading for as little as 30 minutes per week produces an improved life satisfaction and higher self-esteem, lowers heart rate, blood pressure and feeling of psychological distress. To top it off, statistics show that 50% of people who read before bed report better sleeping than non-readers. We all know reading is important to the brain development of children but is incredibly impactful for teens and adults as well. Just six additional minutes of reading per day can make a difference.
“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” – Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis