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Reading Survey Shines Light on Students’ HabitsPosted in Literacy on Friday, 25 October, 2019

In the library we see a lot of MCC students who read a lot of great books, they talk about books, they ask us about finding fabulous books and they enjoy spending their time reading.

We also see a lot of students who don’t see the point of reading; their view seems to be that they know how to read and that’s good enough to get them through school and life beyond.

Research shows clearly that those people who spend time reading – whether they are 5, 15, or 55 will be better at reading! While this may seem obvious, it has some serious consequences.  If you are good at something you tend to keep doing it, if you keep practising something you get better at it and so the spiral continues.

Research also indicates that reading for pleasure is a better indicator of academic success than socio-economic background. The research shows that students who read for pleasure are more likely to succeed across all their subjects, not just English.

Reading of fiction for pleasure has other, not necessarily academic, benefits as it generates prosocial skills such as empathy and understanding other points of view.  It also helps us to relax and de-stress; in fact, just 6 minutes of reading can lower your heart rate quicker than meditating!

Current research is clearly backing up what many have been aware of for years, reading is good for us all, but especially for school-aged, young people.  Research and news stories also seem to show that young people are reading less than they used to. So, we wondered how much MCC students are reading and what their reasons are for reading, or not reading.


Students across Years 7, 9 and 12 were surveyed about their reading habits and choices.

The survey showed that 41% of our students spend less than 5 mins a day reading for pleasure with just over 25% reading for more than 25 mins per day.  All three year groups reported that the majority of them are reading less than they did last year. Reasons for this low level of reading were overwhelmingly related to having homework to complete and spending more time on their electronic devices than previously.

Whilst some may feel that time online is reducing reading time, we also found that 50% of students look for ‘next book’ suggestions online, so not all their time can be seen as unproductive.

These results are disappointing and are something that we would love to see change for all our students.  However, it was not all doom and gloom.  The results gave some important insights into what we can do to encourage more reading – those students who reported that their reading has increased gave 2 clear reasons for this:

  1. 23% of these students had found an author, series or genre that they were enjoying
  2. 15% of year 7 and 9 students were reading more because their parents or teachers had encouraged them to do

These results mean that we can help our students read more simply by ensuring that they find books that they enjoy and by actively encouraging them to read.  This is something we are working on in the College however, the majority of the time that students have to read for pleasure is actually at home so here is my challenge to you:

Make time for reading and books, whatever age your children are:

  1. Talk to your children about their reading habits, your reading habits and the benefits that everyone can get from reading
  2. Go online and find suggestions for books they may enjoy – show them the sites that you used (Good is a great place to start)
  3. Model reading with your children – let them see you read, especially if they are in high school and you no longer read aloud to them
  4. Read with them, read aloud to them, listen to an audio book together
  5. Go to the library or a book shop and browse together

Not sure where to start finding great books that your child will enjoy? Come into the library, we are open from 8am – 4pm everyday.  Parents are welcome to come and chat anytime although outside of lesson times is easier to avoid my lesson times.  If you can’t come into the library, send me a direct message through SEQTA.

Mrs Sarah Love
Head of Library and Information Services

(Research quoted is from various studies cited in Merga’s 2019 book Reading Engagement for Tweens and Teens – What would make them read more?)

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