Why is reading important?

  • A lot of learning to read at Primary School is all about learning how to work out what the words on the page actually say. Once children have mastered this skill, we often say that they ‘can read’. But this doesn’t mean they can understand everything they read and it doesn’t mean they can understand the kinds of challenging texts that they will come across as part of their day to day learning at school and beyond, in exams or in the workplace.
The questions and texts in GCSE exams have an approximate reading age of 16 years. To put this into perspective, broadsheet newspapers have a reading age of approximately fourteen years, and tabloids eight years.
  • In order to be successful in all subjects and learning at school and beyond school, we need to be able to read well, because this is the main way we are presented with information. Studies have also shown that reading is also the best way to learn new information – more knowledge is retained through reading than through watching the same information on the television, for example. The more knowledge we have about the world, the easier we find it to understand new texts, because we already have more background knowledge to help us understand what the text is about!
  • Of course, we focus a lot on reading at school. But by far the one most effective thing a young person can do in order to improve their reading ability is to read regularly. Extensive research has shown that the more we read, the better we get at reading – and what’s more, simply reading regularly is more effective at improving reading ability than any other strategy.
  • The more we read, the more vocabulary we learn. This in turn helps us to understand more of what we are reading and to express ourselves better in both writing and speech.
  • If your child is confident reading what the words actually say, they still benefit enormously from reading together, reading out loud, listening to you reading out loud (or sharing an audiobook together). Talking about what they are reading is really powerful, as is you talking to them about what you have been reading.