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Reading Homework Is the
Best Homework

reading is best homework, homework

I have said perhaps a million times that most homework is a colossal waste of time.

Busy work such as copying spelling words you already know, doing 100 math problems when five would suffice, reading boring social studies chapters just to answer the lower-level thinking questions in the back- all of these activities give homework a bad name.

Reading Homework is one kind of homework that I do like!

Do I really have to sell any adult on the benefits of reading? There are about a thousand reasons why reading is the single best homework activity.

Reading improves:



  • reading ability (duh)
  • memory
  • concentration
  • spelling
  • writing
  • math
  • analytical ability
  • verbal communication
  • grades
  • test scores (if that matters to you)

Students that read at (or above) grade level are LESS likely to:

  • have behavior problems
  • miss school due to illness
  • drop out of school
  • do drugs
  • go to prison

    Students that read at (or above) grade level are MORE likely to:

  • graduate from high school and attend college
  • be life-long readers
  • earn a higher income throughout their lifetimes than poor or non-readers

    "My kids have reading homework every night!" you're thinking. This would be awesome if the homework assignment looked like this:

    Read!
    Read Anything!
    Read Everything!
    Read Fiction, Non-Fiction, Biographies, Plays!
    Read What Interests You!
    Read What You Love!
    Read What Makes You Crazy!
    Read About What We've Been Learning in School!
    Read! Read! Read!

    That's not the assignment, is it? I'm willing to bet that your child's reading assignment looks more like this:

    "Read _______ number of pages or read for _________ minutes. Write one page about what you read in your reading journal. Have a parent initial your journal. No credit if your journal is not signed."

    For crying out loud!

    Can we think of any more ways to take the fun out of reading? No wonder kids don't want to read for pleasure! I have a stack of books next to my bed, and I read voraciously every chance I get. But, I would never pick a book up again if I had to keep track of the number of pages I read, write a summary in a journal and then have my mom sign it!

    Why can't children be free to read what they want for homework? Are we afraid that they won't do it? It is my belief (based on my personal experience as a student, parent and teacher) that when children are encouraged to read, given time to read, provided with superb reading material and see adults reading for fun and pleasure- they will do it willingly! It happens every day in homes and classrooms all across America! This is how you can make it happen in your home, too...

    Want Reading Homework to Be Fun?
    Make Sure Your Children Have...

    1. Ability
      Make certain that your child can read at or above grade level. If reading is a struggle, a child won't want to do it. Good readers like to read. Some children have reading disabilities, but the vast majority just need re-teaching, review and practice- all things that most parents can do. I even wrote a book to show them how!

    2. Routine
      Build reading into your daily routine. For example, if the TV goes off at 8 pm and everybody (including you!) reads, reading will become a regular, expected part of the day. The key is to be consistent. Isn't it always (sigh)?

    3. Motivation
      Some kids need an extra incentive to read. Make reading worth their while. My son can either turn off the lights and go to sleep at 8:30 OR read in bed for half an hour. He chooses to read.

    4. Meaning
      All reading doesn't have to come out of a book! Give your children many, varied and interesting opportunities to read: recipes, menus, how-to manuals, movie times in the newspaper, etc. You don't only read War and Peace, do you?

    5. High Interest
      I've never met a kid that wasn't "into" something: cooking, soccer, trains, sharks, ballet... Find out what they like, and find reading material (books, magazines, websites) about it.

    6. Access
      I have books next to my bed. My children have books next to their beds. We have books in the living room. There are books in the car. There is a basket of magazines and books in each bathroom. If someone wants to read in my house, they don't have to move very far to find something to read.

    7. Example
      Your children have to see you reading for pleasure. I know that this is not always easy. You have a zillion things to do, and you would much rather wait until those ankle-biters are asleep and read in peace. I understand, believe me! Nevertheless, you must put down the laundry or that stack of bills periodically and LET YOUR KIDS SEE YOUR READING! (see #2)

    8. Audience
      Ask your children to read out loud as often as possible. I tell my children that when I'm an old lady, I am going to live with them, and they are going to have to read to me every night (I'm also going to ask them for juice every hour, but that's another article). I say, "You will need to be good readers- clear, loud and enthusiastic! I don't want to fall asleep! This is practice."

    Reading is the best homework, and it's what you want your children doing every night!

    Don't Students Read Books
    In School?

    Friends, I want to tell you something that many of you don't know: kids don't read books in school. They read excerpts of books in state-adopted reading programs. I call this phenomenon Starving on Snacks. Entire books (full meals), read with the whole class, teacher-and-student lead discussion, getting to know characters, studying plot, pacing, etc? This is not happening in the vast majority of schools. There is no time, no materials (try finding 34 books) and no support, so teachers just follow the prescribed reading program.

    So, what are students doing in the library, you may ask? The librarian reads them a story, and then they have 15 minutes to choose a book on their own, which is usually not at their independent reading level. Invariably, the book is too hard (I call this The Harry Potter Effect) or it is not literature but How to Draw Airplanes or something equally non-academic.

    What about silent reading, you wonder? Students learn to sit quietly for 20 minutes and look at books that they cannot read or understand on their own. I will worry about children literature awards when I actually witness students READING BOOKS.

    This is why parents need to make absolutely certain that their children are reading good literature at home! Forget all of those worksheets and copying spelling words- start reading books!

    Parents, Make Certain That
    Your Students Are Awesome Readers!

    Do not wait for anybody else to do it! Reading is the most important- wait! You KNOW why reading is so important!
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