Reading is a fundamental skill that is essential for academic success and personal growth. Unfortunately, in today’s digital age, many students are becoming more accustomed to reading on screens, whether that be in their own time, or at school. This is why in the Grade 9/10 Literature class, we have implemented a 45-minute sustained silent reading program every Friday.
The idea is simple: students are encouraged to bring in a physical book of their own choosing (no screens allowed), or take one from the library, and for 45 minutes, they must focus solely on reading that book. This is a time for students to escape the digital world and immerse themselves in literature, allowing them to explore different worlds, broaden their vocabulary, and build critical thinking skills.
One of the main benefits of this program is that it helps students develop their ability to focus for extended periods. Many students struggle with attention spans due to constant distractions and multitasking. They often tell me that they are ‘not able to read for longer than a few minutes,’ and I explain to them that it just takes practice. Sustained silent reading is a powerful tool to help them train their brain to concentrate on one task for an extended period. This focus can translate into other areas of their academic and personal life, such as studying for exams or completing assignments.
Another benefit of this unit of study is that it encourages students to read for pleasure. When students have the freedom to choose their own book, they are more likely to find a book that resonates with them, leading to a deeper understanding and appreciation of literature. Also, reading for pleasure has been shown to positively affect mental health, reducing stress and anxiety levels. Some students have chosen books that are for fun, for learning, and some even have deeper meaning for them.
Over time, since we started this, I have seen a noticeable improvement in students’ ability to focus for longer stretches of time, reading comprehension, writing skills, and overall engagement with literature. Sustained silent reading is an excellent way to get students to read for pleasure while improving their focus and concentration skills. By encouraging students to choose physical books and read without the distractions of screens, we are helping them develop important habits that will serve them well in their academic and personal lives.