Reading Rates

21 Jan

A few days ago I posted about the reading log we developed at my school.  One of the components of the log is the goal that students will have at least 600 pages read of completed books each month.  Where did that number come from?  It came from research on reading rates and fluency, mainly by Tim Rasinski, and then presented at Columbia Teachers’ College.  Students grow more fluent as they improve as readers, but they also begin reading books that are longer, with more densely packed text.

The reading goal works for students who are in chapter books–anything from Horrible Harry on up.  I wouldn’t use it with K-1 students, or children who are still below a level L reading level.  It’s a more accurate gauge of a child’s volume of reading than just tracking the number of books finished, which is common in reading programs, because book lengths vary so greatly.  A child who finishes a Harry Potter novels has read 800 pages, for example, whereas one who has finished a Magic Treehouse book has only read about 70 pages.

Reading rate and fluency is closely linked to reading achievement.  Fluency isn’t just how fast you read, of course.  It also involves prosody (the stress and intonation of your speech), expression, and the idea that you slow down when the reading is difficult or dense, and speed up when it’s easier.  The goal of 600 pages per month only addresses the first issue, of reading rate.

A teacher at my school made up a handout, the ReadingRateBookLengthChart, to give to parents at Back to School Night that explains the relationship between reading rate, reading level, and finished books.

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