[kids-lib] Research behind why it's important to read 20 minutes a day

Katie Anderson katie.anderson at state.or.us
Mon Dec 16 14:56:50 PST 2013

Hi! Someone asked for more research after I sent my resent email about the visual representation<http://listsmart.osl.state.or.us/pipermail/kids-lib/2013-December/001585.html> of reading 20 minutes a day. I  thought you all might like to know what I found during my not-quite 2 hours of research. If anyone else has research at their finger tips that supports why kids should read 20 minutes a day (or something that contradicts that research) please share it!

I have found that lots and lots of articles, websites, schools, and program say reading 20 minutes a day is the key. Unfortunately, most of them don't site any sources. Those that do all seem to sight the research by William Nagy in the late 1980s, mostly this article<http://go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA293154502&v=2.1&u=sale38182&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&asid=cf91f3b33713c38dd45a712b65dda3a7> which I've requested a full text copy of and will share with you as soon as I get it. There seem to be several similar studies in the 1980s on how kids spend their out-of-school time that found an extremely strong correlation between how much time kids spent reading independently and their reading assessment scores. These studies indicate that kids who spend about 20 minutes per day reading outside of school are in the 70th percentile in reading.

This is a great handout (http://www.scilearn.com/alldocs/rsrch/30388RAExtra10min.pdf) that cites sources regarding why time spent reading is important.

Anderson, R. C., Wilson, P.T., & Fielding, L. G. (1988). Growth in reading and how children spend their time outside of school. Reading Research Quarterly, 23 , 285-303.
http://www.palmbeachschools.org/imlms/documents/growthinread.pdf This is a really academic article, but look at Figure 1 on page 297 (page 14 of the pdf) to see a chart that clearly shows how minutes per day increases reading comprehension. The first full paragraph on page 298 (page 15 of pdf) states that the results of this study are comparable to two other similar studies.

You might want to read the first several pages Chapter 5: Sustained Silent Reading in Jim Trelease's The Read-Aloud Handbook (2001) because it pulls together a lot of the research. I just noticed there was a new edition of this published this year so I'll order it for the State Library and we'll see what's changed in the research.

Hopefully this helps!


Katie Anderson, Library Development Services
* Youth Services Consultant * Oregon Center for the Book Coordinator *
Oregon State Library, 250 Winter St. NE, Salem, OR 97301
katie.anderson at state.or.us<mailto:katie.anderson at state.or.us>, 503-378-2528
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