From a child’s earliest days, teachers encourage developing a love of reading through story time in school. As children get older, the goal is to nurture this love into independent reading. However, many times it just doesn’t stick– as students get older, some do not develop a love of reading on their own. It is possible that they haven’t connected with the material or they just struggle with reading and don’t find it enjoyable. Despite the benefits, some students don’t develop a passion for independent reading, which can hamper their social skills and language development. Beanstack can support the ongoing efforts of educators to build a love of reading and increase independent reading time with ease.
Reading has many benefits for students, from inspiring the imagination to improving academic abilities. When students embrace the importance of reading, they can reach their full potential. Active reading becomes widespread throughout childhood development and even into adulthood. Here is a closer look at the benefits of reading, and how Beanstack can help you get your students reading regularly.
When children read, they inevitably experience difficult words that are new to them. Sometimes the text or pictures give context to the new word's meaning. Other times, the child asks someone or looks up the word. As they learn to work through the meaning of words from an early age, they learn new vocabulary. Regular reading, especially books that slightly stretch the student’s reading level, leads to increased vocabulary.
This link between vocabulary and reading is clear in the research. The Education Research International found a direct correlation between reading comprehension abilities and vocabulary knowledge, finding that children who read more have a more extensive vocabulary.
Improves Literacy Skills
When many parents think of literacy, they think solely of fluent reading abilities, writing skills, and language development. But literacy also includes verbal communication skills and social skills. When a child is reading, they come across different ways of approaching problems and interacting with the world. This teaches empathy and overall social abilities.
When a student reads, they also absorb information that they can later model. They learn what a quality written sentence looks like, and gain vocabulary and syntax to speak more effectively when reading. Readers develop better listening skills, especially when educators merge personal reading with reading aloud for their classes.
Boosts Academic Success
Independent reading time directly affects school achievement and test score success. One study in 2016 found that students who choose to read for fun performed better in all subjects, including STEM subjects. The study’s authors pointed to reading comprehension and critical thinking skills gleaned from reading as a key reason for their higher performance.
More recently, a case study analyzing Beanstack use in a Texas elementary school found that challenging students to each log 2,000 minutes of reading during the academic year increased standardized test scores significantly. Students saw gains of over 60% in reading and nearly 50% in math.
Enhances Overall Knowledge
Reading grows a student’s knowledge. Even fiction books expose students to places and cultures they otherwise would not know about. They can learn so much from different types of book genres, which they can apply to other areas of interest, expanding knowledge. Overall, the more students learn, the more they become aware of the world around them. They will learn skills that expand beyond reading, such as effective interpersonal communication.
Non-fiction reading expands knowledge as well. Students who read to learn and have good reading comprehension will grow their knowledge base through their chosen books. Increased knowledge increases effectiveness both in and out of the classroom. Students will be more prepared for life experiences, refine their language skills, and expand their minds by reading both nonfiction and fiction titles.
Supports Cognitive Development
Reading is a vital part of the brain’s development. It requires more focus and uses more areas of the brain than passive activities like watching videos. And the heightened brain activation from reading appears to persist beyond when a student closes their book.
In an Emory University study researchers performed brain scans on a group of students, then had them read a historical fiction thriller. They scanned the students after reading, and found increased resting-state connectivity between different areas of the brain for five days after their reading sessions. They even noticed heightened activity in areas related to movement and physical sensations. Reading truly develops the brain in far-reaching ways.
Reduces Stress and Helps With Relaxation
Numerous studies recently found that people who read for pleasure have better overall mental health. Reading is a relaxing activity that can help students manage stress and achieve a state of relaxation.
The University of Sussex found that reading reduces stress better than other relaxing activities, such as taking a walk or listening to music. Stress levels were reduced by 68% in study participants who read silently for just six minutes.
Similarly, reading regularly reduces symptoms of depression in young adults. In a study of nearly 100 young adults, both self-reported and clinically significant symptoms improved with regular reading time. This finding could provide an important treatment option for parents and teachers helping kids.
Develops Critical Thinking Skills
Education is about more than just teaching facts. It’s also about teaching children how to think. The ideas and scenarios students face inside and outside the classroom require critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Reading a wide range of material lets students encounter different ideologies and ways of viewing the world. This challenges them to think about their own beliefs. Over time, this creates critical thinking skills that students can carry into adulthood. Not only will these reading materials introduce them to new arguments, it will also teach them to evaluate details and gain skills that will expand beyond reading comprehension.
Improves Concentration and Memory
Episodic memory, the memory of events, allows students to remember what happened to them earlier in the day or the week. And when children read, they develop this type of memory. With episodic memory, kids can remember what happened in the chapter before the one they have read. This memory ability puts the events of the book together in a logical story.
Working memory is a different kind of memory skill that keeps track of things that are happening in the moment. This is the type of memory students use to remember what happened in the paragraphs or sentences before the ones read. Holding things in their memory for a short period of time is essential to understanding what was read.
Reading develops both of these types of memory. As students read longer and longer passages, they grow those memory muscles, and their overall cognition improves. When working and episodic memory improve, so does long-term memory, according to the Beckman Institute. All of this works together to help students with their overall academic success.
Encourages Imagination and Creativity
When a student gets lost in a book, their imagination turns on. They’re transported to a far-off world, a different time in history, or another person’s life. They form mental images of the characters and settings. All of this creates a greater sense of wonder and creativity.
Often, the creativity sparked by reading books shows up in other forms of communication. Readers are often excellent creative writers. They may become skilled communicators. It all starts with falling in love with books at a young age.
How Beanstack Can Help Cultivate a Love of Reading
Beanstack is a unique tool you can use to spark a love of reading and create a reading culture in your classroom or school so more students reap the benefits of reading.
Beanstack lets you set up reading challenges for your classroom, school, school district, or library. You can have students log the number of books or minutes spent reading, and everyone can participate. The gamification of the program captures students' attention, and you can tie in real-world rewards, like class parties, for reaching goals. With Beanstack, proficient readers and growing readers are on a level playing field. All can work together to achieve goals while enhancing their reading skills. You can even partner with the local library to help students earn rewards at school and in their community.
Once you have your reading challenges set up with Beanstack, each student can access the app. They can log in via their tablet, phone, or computer, or use school technology to do so. They quickly and easily log their reading, earning badges. The tool also provides a place to review books and read staff reviews of favorite children’s books.
Not only does Beanstack make it easy to track progress, it also helps students grow a love of reading because they are able to earn those badges, realize their goals, recognize reading achievement, and feel like they are a part of a community of readers. Through the flexibility and innovative technology of the platform, students gain both confidence in their reading abilities and an improvement of literacy skills.
As the students start working together towards the community goal, they develop a stronger culture of reading throughout the community. Teachers report seeing students talking about books they’ve read over lunch and recess breaks. In Charleston county, kids’ had such an enthusiastic response to the new program that, once students started to log minutes and earn badges, they began asking teachers to use Beanstack in the classroom. Students may even encourage struggling readers to keep going to attain their goals.
Interested in learning how Beanstack can help your district improve daily reading habits? Contact us today for a personalized demo!