What is an independent reader?

  1. What is an independent reader?
  2. What are the benefits of being an independent reader?
  3. Why is it important for children to be independent readers?
  4. How will I know if a child is struggling?
  5. How can it support reading for pleasure?
  6. How does reading support children’s mental health?
  7. How can you help your child become an independent reader?
  8. What kind of books will encourage a child to be more independent?
  9. How do I reward all children fairly?
  10. Independent Readers: Why is choice important? (A teacher’s view)
  11. What it means to be an independent reader

What is an independent reader?

A child is an independent reader if they desire to read a text on their own, with minimal to no assistance from adults. This text can be anything from a copy of Beano, the label of a cereal box to the latest Horrible Histories. Whatever it is, if it has been chosen by them, on their own time, that is independent reading. And it is a wonderful thing. 

One question I am asked most frequently at parent’s evening is ‘what books should (insert disenchanted learner’s name here) be reading?’ Instinctively my answer is, ‘whatever they want to read’. There is no point in making them read something they have no interest in. Because the motivation to return to it independently will disappear.

Looking for lesson ideas and resources to help in the classroom? Check out this series of activities for Cephalox the Cyber Squid by Adam Blade.

Cephalox the Cyber Squid by Adam Blade classroom resource and activities

What are the benefits of being an independent reader?

It is well known that children who are good readers tend to do better in school than their peers. But what is not so well known is that there are things parents can do to help their children become good readers. In fact, if parents start early and provide a rich reading environment for their children, they will be on their way to becoming independent readers.

As a parent, you know that it is important for your child to be independent. This includes being able to do things on their own, such as getting dressed, feeding themselves and brushing their teeth. But did you know that independent reading is also important?

Independent reading means being able to read for pleasure, for information and for academic purposes. It involves teaching your child how to read well and also giving them opportunities to read extensively. Independent readers are better learners and are more likely to succeed in school and beyond.

Why is it important for children to be independent readers?

There are many reasons why it is important for children to be independent readers. First, independent readers are better learners. They do better in school and have a higher chance of success in life. Second, independent readers read for pleasure. This means they enjoy reading and find value in it. Reading for pleasure makes children smarter and more interesting people. Finally, independent readers read for information. They use books to learn about the world around them and to gain knowledge on a variety of topics.

How will I know if a child is struggling?

Here are some signs that a child may be struggling in school:

  1. The child is consistently reading books below their biological age.
  2. The child is having difficulty maintaining focus on reading.
  3. The child is exhibiting behavioural changes, such as becoming more anxious, irritable, or withdrawn.
  4. The child is expressing frustration or a lack of interest in school.
  5. The child is having difficulty keeping up with their classmates or understanding their lessons.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to talk to the child and their parent to try to determine the cause of the struggles and to find ways to support the child’s learning. It may also be helpful to consider seeking the advice of a school counsellor or other educational professional.

How can it support reading for pleasure?

Reading for pleasure is important for several reasons. First, it allows children to explore new worlds and experience different cultures. They can also escape into imaginary worlds where anything is possible. Reading for pleasure also helps children develop a love of learning, which will benefit them throughout their academic career. independent readers are more likely to excel in school and be successful in college and beyond.

Reading for pleasure is one of the most important things that a child can do. It helps them to relax and escape from the world for a while. It also helps them to develop a love of reading, which will serve them well in their academic career. When children read for pleasure, they are more likely to read extensively, and this will improve their reading skills. independent readers are better learners and are more likely to succeed in school and beyond.

There are many benefits to reading extensively. It helps children learn new things, and it can also be enjoyable. Here are some tips on how to help your child read extensively:

– Make time for reading every day

– Encourage your child to read books that interest them

– Help them find books that are at the right level for them

– Let them read aloud to you, and discuss what they have read

How does reading support children’s mental health?

Reading can support a child’s mental health in several ways. First, reading can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation. When a child reads, they are transported into the world of the book, which can provide a welcome distraction from the stressors of daily life. Reading can also help to increase empathy and understanding, as it allows a child to see the world from different perspectives and to develop a deeper understanding of the experiences and emotions of others. Additionally, reading can improve a child’s cognitive abilities, such as their memory, concentration, and problem-solving skills, which can boost their self-esteem and confidence. Finally, reading can provide a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment, which can enhance overall well-being.

How can you help your child become an independent reader?

As educators, there’s only so much we can do. But a start here are some tips that worked with some of my more disengaged readers in encouraging them to become independent readers.

Encouraging Your Learners to Become an Independent reader: 10 Tips

Nowadays children are rarely racing to the library at break and lunchtime to grab their copy of the next Percy Jackson. Instead, they’re spending their time scrolling through dog videos or learning the newest TikTok dance.

As educators, there’s only so much we can do. But a start here are some tips that worked with some of my more disengaged readers in encouraging them to become independent readers.

1. Make the act of choosing a book exciting!

We are lucky enough to still have some wonderful libraries in this country. As well as, gorgeous bookstores that put so much effort into filling the children’s section. Not just with books either. But with interactive and entertaining displays that will draw in even the most attention-deficit learners (or adults). My husband frequently loses me to the children’s section in our local bookstore for a good forty-five minutes (and I am not ashamed to admit it). 

You can find a wide variety of the most popular children’s eBooks on Reading Hub – currently, we have over 2000 eBooks available for free!

2. Give your independent reader a challenge (if they need it)

If your learner is a little older and needs something more challenging – YA or teen fiction has some superb options available that are challenging enough without being inappropriate for younger audiences. These shelves are often full to the brim with authors like Patrick Ness, Malorie Blackman and John Green. 

3. Don’t worry if they haven’t been reading for a long time

Even if it is 5 minutes in the afternoon whilst they are waiting for their school bus. It will accumulated over time and develop as a habit eventually.

4. Have a dedicated ‘reading space’

Library spaces are few and far between and can be very pricey to furnish. All you really need is an area in your school that’s quiet enough for your learners to read without distraction and in comfort! A couple of recycled rugs, bean bags or comfy chairs can go a long way!

5. Try not to interfere with the book choices of your independent reader

This is a hard one if your learner seems to only read Horrid Henry. If they’re reading something that brings them happiness and joy, praise it! Reading for pleasure books should come from their own preferences and abilities. We all know they are fed a healthy portion of fiction, non-fiction, prose, poetry and plays in school. So we definitely have them covered as far as variety is concerned. 

6. Make time for reading each day.

This could be during bedtime stories, during independent quiet time or even while travelling in the car.

7. Encourage your child to read widely. 

Have them read books that interest them, books that teach them new things and books that challenge them academically.

8. Help your child develop good reading habits. 

This includes taking the time to read slowly and carefully, making predictions about what will happen next and checking in on their understanding as they read.

9. Model independent reading yourself. 

Show your child that you enjoy reading for pleasure and that you also use reading as a tool for learning new things.

10. Give your child opportunities to practice their reading skills. 

This could involve having them read aloud, working with them on comprehension questions or even having them complete book reports.

What kind of books will encourage a child to be more independent?

The best books to motivate a child to read more will vary depending on the child’s interests and reading level. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  1. For younger children, consider books with colourful illustrations, engaging characters, and simple, repetitive text that they can easily read on their own.
  2. For older children, try books that feature relatable characters or exciting plots that will capture their attention and keep them turning the pages.
  3. Encourage your child to choose books that align with their interests, whether it’s sports, animals, adventure, or something else.
  4. Look for books that offer a mix of text and visuals, such as graphic novels or illustrated nonfiction books, which can be an engaging way for children to learn and explore new topics.
  5. Consider introducing your child to a variety of genres, such as mystery, science fiction, fantasy, or historical fiction, to help them discover new interests and expand their horizons.

Ultimately, the key is to find books that your child will enjoy and that will inspire them to keep reading.

How do I reward all children fairly?

Here are a few tips for rewarding children fairly:

  1. Make sure the rewards are appropriate for the child’s age and abilities. For younger children, a simple reward such as stickers or a small toy may be enough, while older children may be motivated by more substantial rewards such as a trip to a favorite attraction or a special outing with friends.
  2. Be consistent in your approach to rewarding children. If you have multiple children, make sure you are using the same criteria to decide who gets what rewards and why.
  3. Avoid rewarding children for things that they are already expected to do, such as completing their homework or following the rules. Instead, focus on rewarding them for going above and beyond or for achieving a specific goal.
  4. Consider using a reward system that allows children to earn points or tokens for good behaviour or for achieving certain milestones, and then letting them use those points to choose their own rewards. This can help to foster a sense of ownership and responsibility.
  5. Be open and transparent with children about the rewards they can earn and how they can earn them, and be willing to listen to their feedback and suggestions. This can help to build trust and ensure that the rewards are fair and meaningful.

Independent Readers: Why is choice important? (A teacher’s view)

I would say that any independent reading a learner chooses to do, should remain exactly that: independent.

They should be able to choose what it is, how often they read it and how long they spend reading it. Having a choice when it comes to what to read is imperative to the importance of reading.

Save the prescribed and torturous texts for school (trust me, by high school there are plenty of them!) If we take the liberty out of reading, we will drain any remanence of joy out of it too.

Independent readers often develop a lifelong love of reading

I have the fondest memories of insisting my mum would read ‘We Are Going On a Bear Hunt’ over and over again before bed. As I grew older this memory is something I still very much treasure to this day.

Memories like these are what keeps learners engaged and motivated to keep up the habit. Encouragement and patience are what nurture their desire to read and will result in a passion to share the stories they’ve enjoyed too!

What it means to be an independent reader

To me, being an independent reader doesn’t just mean taking yourself off to the library to browse the bookshelves. It’s so much more than that.

Becoming an independent reader ignites the drive to enquire, ask questions, seek out more understanding and build on the knowledge you already have. Overall, independence drives confidence in our learners. And I believe these are essential core skills that all children should acquire. 

If you’d like more ideas on how to encourage reading. Then why not take a look at our tips to get kids excited about reading?

Would you like more of your learners to become independent readers? Reading Hub can help you!

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Co-founder Hannah Rix
Written by Co-founder, Hannah Rix

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