Reading For Leisure Aids Language Development

By reading a variety of books, magazines, and newspapers, students gain exposure to complex vocabulary, and reading becomes a prime opportunity for learning new words. … Given the importance of reading to lexical development in school-age children and adolescents, reading should be promoted as a leisure activity during these years. Lang Speech Hear Serv Sch. 2005

Literacy is vital to language development. It seems pretty obvious, but it is something we may sometimes forget. Parents of kids who don’t like reading are passionate about getting them to read “good books.” A group of researchers at the University of Oregon recently investigated what older children and young adolescents actually like reading, and what else they like doing.

The results were not particularly surprising. Music and TV, sports and video games were the most popular pastimes, while reading feel somewhere in the middle. Magazines were preferred to novels, and comics were also popular. Most importantly, reading time dropped as children got older. This has vast implications for language development in teenagers. Sure, you can probably “talk real good” by age fifteen, but at that age, English writing tasks are becoming increasingly complex, job interviews are beginning and comprehension is becoming much more technically demanding as students are asked to assimilate technical science and maths data from multiple sources.

In the opinions of the authors, speech pathologists should use students preferences to enable them to continue leisure reading, in whatever form. Why is it that I have multiple magazine subscriptions as an adult, but I had to go out and buy my favorite comics at the newsagent as a kid? I hope I can keep all this in mind when my kids slow their reading habit.

Resources: “Literacy as a leisure activity: free-time preferences of older children and young adolescents.” – Nippold MA, Duthie JK, Larsen J

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