The Power of Reading – Insights from the Research by Krashen Stephen

It is a common to hear that; if you want to hide anything to black person put it in a book. In our particular case you will hear: Tanzanians don’t read books. In both cases there is some truth. But many don’t go further and ask question(s) why we don’t read?

The Power of Reading by Krashen provides informative research findings on literacy crisis, though based in US some findings are universal. During 1970s literacy level in Tanzania was almost 90%, now it is about 60%. It’s not uncommon to find standard seven graduates who can not read and write. In secondary and high level institutions most of the student read for academics as they must read. As the saying goes, you can only learn reading by reading. Krashen is specifically recommending, Free Voluntary Reading (FVR). FVR means reading because you want to.

The following are some of research findings which reflect on cause, effect and posible solution to the problem of reading.

  • Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) means reading because you want to: not because it’s homework, no book report, no questions at the end of chapter. FVR is one of foundation of language education more effective when combined with other techniques. Types of in-school FVR: Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), self-selective reading and extensive reading
  • Direct Instruction (DI) may be used to complement FVR. DI entails consciously skills building and error correction and learning language rules. Depending on environment, capacity of the student and availability of reading materials, optimal combination of DI and FVR will yield better results.
  • Access to quality reading materials is one of solution. Thought it is true that “you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink”. But first and foremost, make sure the water is there. Access should mean good number; quality of books and other reading materials; comfortable, quite and conveniently located.
  • Children from high-income families reads more-because they have what to read. Research shows that, when children are given many optional on reading materials, they will read what is interesting to them. A family with good income is in better position of accessing and buying more reading material.
  • Creation of Print-Rich Environment (PRE) should be the way. Parents, schools, government and all stakeholders in promotion of literacy has obligation of ensuring that PRE is creation from home to public libraries. People should be exposed to environment where they can choose and read what they want not what is available. To me Print-Poor Environment (PPR) has significant contribution to the low level of literacy in Tanzania.
  • Children learn allot from reading to and see other reading. Research shows that when teachers were also reading during sustained silent reading, students read more. Also at home when their parents are reading it motivated them to red more. Secondly, reading to children, for example bedtime stories improve kids language capacities. If you think you kid is to young to read to, some parents start bedtime reading at the age of 6 month.
  • Reading contributes in improving writing and makes us smarter. From reading, sometimes unconsciously and involuntarily people learn vocabularies and writing style. Formal language is often too complex to learn one rule at a time. When people reads they encounter and learn different styles and gain command of language, which gives them advantage in writing. Reading more without writing will not improve writing skills. Another advantage of writing; it makes us think and solve the problem, in other words, can make you smarter.
  • Other reading benefits include; pleasure and cognitive development. Now days, in CVs people write that reading is one of their hobbies. I never stop to wonder how many of them understand the pleasure of reading.
  • Let’s make reading family and community activity. Let’s create Print-Rich Environment for people to access what they like reading. For parents, remember, read stories to your children and when they see you reading it motivate them.
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Published in: on September 16, 2009 at 9:11 am  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. shalom,
    Definitely YES, i am supporting you. Thanks for opening my mind and understanding, as now i will practice your comments which comes after doing research.


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