Once again, yesterday, I defended a librarian espousing that their student should be able to checkout whatever they wanted to read for independent reading. Where do teachers get the idea that kids should read, an "M" or a 6.5? Have you ever heard a student say, "I really want to read a "P" book at home." No. They say, "I really want to read a muscle-car book." Or, they may say..."I really want to read that book about ..." and most of the time the librarian can read their mind and share the title.
As people wrap their heads around the Common Core and get more familiar with content and process, it's important to understand the key precepts of independent reading. We have Stephen Krashen and Marilyn Adams to thank for a great deal of the reading research which lends a playbook for your everyday librarian:
- The more students read, the better they'll read* So, why limit their reading to a pre-set reading level with limited titles available?
- Students need opportunities to read easy books to build fluency - This is ratified in Appendix A, Page 9, of the CCSS standards. We shouldn't have to define what level they should read at -- whether easy or hard -- for independent reading.
- Students need experience reading complex text to improve their ability to decode meaning when they encounter difficult material - This is based on the research of Marilyn Jager Adams, PhD. Brown University
- Students will shift from easy --> hard material if it's on a subject of their interest. - So let them choose what they want and their innate curiosity will compel them to read and achieve understanding, thus raising their reading ability.
- Students need curiosity to inspire reading. They will either have natural curiosity or stirred up curiosity (stirred up by the educator)
- Students need a reason to read that is not about 'assignment' - a quest for knowledge or an answer to find.
* [Source: - Technically, I should cite this source, as I contributed to this article for Expeditionary Learning, and used the same wording in this article which was published under their name: http://www.engageny.org/sites/default/files/resource/attachments/volumeofreading.pdf]