Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Independent reading success is like independent cycling success.
Independent reading is time provided for interacting positively with a book or text with little assistance from an adult. The intention is for reading to become a life-long, effortless habit that brings pleasure to the reader so they can read, enjoy and interact with a book which they have chosen. It is a time for learned reading behaviors to be practiced on different texts. It builds a love of words and ideas in text!
In independent reading, learners are given the opportunity each day to authentically practice what they have been explicitly taught in modeled and guided reading using a self-selected text. They have time to learn and apply strategies and skills which have been recently taught. Independent reading is not a substitute for teaching. It is time for practice!
Independent reading builds passion and reading stamina by engaging with a text that the reader can understand and enjoy. The learner reads to enjoy words and ideas as they read, talk and think about the text. The more you read – the more you know!
In independent reading, learner’s re-read familiar texts that are just the right level – not too hard and not too easy! Re-reading helps develop layers of meaning and critical thinking skills because decoding is minimalized and thinking is maximized. Repetition helps build confidence, fluency, comprehension and a passion for reading.
Independent reading builds fluency and comprehension so that readers are thinking about what they read and if it makes sense or not. Through reading (and re-reading) a wide variety of texts, learners build vocabulary and conceptual knowledge. The more you read – the more you learn!
During independent reading, learners have time to practice working with words and ideas. They encounter and problem solve on new words, recycle known words and become more fluent with them and automatically recognize high frequency words. This automaticity leads to fluency, which promotes engagement and deeper thinking about what has been read.
Readers need access to a wide variety of books so they can choose the “just-right” text. Library spaces need to be well organized and accessible so that learners know how and where to select the best book for practice. Series of books, range of levels and interests, narrative and informational texts need to be available.
After independent reading, learners need time to talk about their thinking as they engage with texts they understand. Sharing their passion for words and ideas in text motivates and engages learners to become life-long readers who question the world and think critically about what the author said and meant.
Learned reading behaviors can be used every day through independent reading on any piece of text. Reading should be a life-long, effortless habit that brings pleasure to the reader so they can read, enjoy and interact with a book or piece of text. Read, read, and read some more!