Whatever the domain of a human endeavor, the amount of time that individuals devote to an activity influences their levels of proficiency. Reading is no different. TextProject provides resources to support an increase in students’ reading, including their ability to read independently. A particular focus of TextProject’s resources is with summer reading. Unless students have appropriate texts for summer reading, their reading declines from the end of one grade to the start of the next.
Getting good at cognitive-motor processes such as playing the piano, golfing, doing surgery, and reading is a result of practice. Likewise, proficient reading is built on numerous reading experiences. For many students, reading opportunities occur in classrooms first. If these students do not acquire strong reading habits in classrooms, it is doubtful that they will be eager to read extensively outside of school. Even a little more reading time can go a long way. In fact, as little as an additional 7 minutes of reading per day has been shown to differentiate classrooms in which students read well from those in which students were not as proficient readers.
By the end of the primary grades, students who are not proficient silent readers begin falling further and further behind in school. If students aren’t adept at silent reading, they simply can’t keep up. But for many students, good silent reading habits do not come naturally. In particular, silent reading habits do not smoothly transfer from frequent oral reading events. Silent reading involves self-monitoring and also the stamina to keep reading and thinking, even when content is challenging. For many 21st century students, the skills of silent reading depend on instructional experiences in classrooms.
Students who don’t read much over the summer show a decline in reading performance from the end of one grade to the start of the next. Often, it is low-income students who don’t have ready access to books at home that face this problem. Typically, when low-income students are given books for summer reading, the texts are too difficult for students to read successfully on their own.