Who Can Prove “Reading for Fun” is Best?

Literacy professionals know it’s true.  Budding readers know it’s true.  Policy makers probably know it’s true (but try to ignore it for some reason). Now you will know, too!  Reading is best, and does the most good, when it is nothing but fun – downright pleasure.  Don’t just take my word for it – stand on the backs of giants and take a look!

Nagy and Herman, in 2004, found that a child who reads for pleasure just 20 minutes a day, is exposed to almost 2 million vocabulary words a year.  Wow!

Spend time reading for pleasure, indoors or out!

Lonsdale, in his 2003 study on the impact of school librarians, found that reading for pleasure increased student academic achievement.

The National Endowment for the Arts stated, after extensive research in 2007, that “reading for pleasure correlates strongly with academic achievement,” also concluding: “Research has also shown that reading fosters cognitive development by promoting higher-order reasoning, critical thinking, comprehension, writing skills, vocabulary, and grammatical development.”

Studies from Clark & Rumbold in 2006 and 2010 (as well as Small, Shanahan & Stasak, 2010 and Horbec, 2012) found that reading for pleasure helped with, yes, academic achievement, but also cognitive development in general AND social/emotional well-being.

Merga, in 2015, found that reading during school time positively impacted student engagement with pleasure reading.

Gagen-Springs found, in 2020, that students who believe they can read well will likely engage in reading for pleasure. She also determined that school librarians were vital in terms of not only providing time for reading, but also in
encouraging students to read for pleasure.

Why are we not acting upon this tried-and-true science? Literacy does not have to be hard.  But, it REQUIRES fun-time!

Read more here:

Krashen, Steve. (2004). The Power of Reading. Chicago: Libraries Unlimited.

Beers, Kylene and Robert Probst. (2020). Forged by Reading: The Power of a Literate Life. New York: Scholastic Professional


Clark, C., & Rumbold, K. (2006). Reading for pleasure: A research overview. London, England: National
Literacy Trust. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED49634

Horbec, D. (2012). The link between reading and academic success. English in Australia, 47(2), 58-67

Gagen-Spriggs, Krystal. “An Investigation into the Reasons Students Read for Pleasure.” School Libraries Worldwide, vol. 26, no. 1, Jan. 2020, pp. 110–23. EBSCOhost, https://doi.org/10.14265.26.1.009.

Lonsdale, M. (2003). Impact of school libraries on student achievement: A review of the research. Camberwell,
Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Merga M.K. (2015). “She knows what I like”: Student-generated best-practice statements for encouraging
recreational book reading in adolescents. Australian Journal of Education. 59(1), 35-50. doi:

Nagy W.E, & Herman P.A. (2014). Breadth and depth of vocabulary knowledge: Implications for acquisition
and instruction. In M. G. McKeown & M. E. Curtis (Eds.). The nature of vocabulary acquisition. New
York: Psychology Press

National Endowment for the Arts, “To Read or Not To Read: A Question of National Consequence,” 2007, Question of National Consequence,” 2007, https://www.arts.gov/sites/default/files/ToRead.pdf, 14

Small R.V., Shanahan K.A, & Stasak, M. (2010). The impact of New York’s school libraries on student
achievement and motivation: Phase III. School Library Research, 13. Retrieved from