A Strong Case for Independent Reading – of Fiction & Nonfiction


Miller & Moss review recent research on independent reading and make a compelling case for bringing independent reading back to our daily practice – a LOT of independent reading (IR) with the teacher present as an “active participant” (p. 39) offering multiple types of support through mini-lessons and conferring – a structured approach to independent reading. The idea that the teacher has to be fully present to learning about and moving her readers forward is a BIG part of the research on effective IR. In addition, students need to develop a reading diet that includes a variety of genres – including informational text. Yes – I’m smiling 🙂

This is a short book – 72 pages plus references and could easily be read by a professional learning group looking for research to support IR and seeking more ways to engage students in IR experiences. (As the authors point out – and less time on calendar, worksheets, transitions, announcements and so forth.) Instructional recommendations include tips for finding more time in the day and building robust classroom libraries.

There is a big emphasis on “choice” or “self-selected reading” (research presented and instruction recommended)  – but there’s an underlying message that we should support students in choosing different genres including informational texts (a genre wheel, reading aloud different genres, making different genres accessible). There were two spots in the book when thematic text sets were mentioned (p. 32 and 56), but no discussion of how “choice” works in these instances. I’m playing around with that in my new manuscript – we really need to see more students reading informational texts  (history and science vs. pop culture) – independently, for growing amounts of time, with teacher support. I know that if we are reading these books aloud and if we book talk these books, students will want to read them during independent reading. But I’m also thinking through and reviewing literature on how to keep the interest going, the wanting to select from and so forth with a text set. Again – I think reading aloud, book talking and having high quality books makes the difference.

In the end, this book gets a big thumbs up from me. While the recommendations for teaching in this book are light (almost skim-able), the research presented is substantial and thorough and that’s what I found most energizing.


4 thoughts on “A Strong Case for Independent Reading – of Fiction & Nonfiction

  1. Cathe McCoy

    Sunday, I am so glad you mentioned this book. I ordered this one because Debbie Miller was one of the authors….just haven’t read it yet. You are so much more on top of the research than I am. Waay too much to learn…keeps us busy.. doesn’t it.

  2. paula smeltekop

    I agree completely!
    This was just the book I was looking for to use as a professional discussion group with other Media Specialists. I felt VERY empowered when discussing how we could support more effective Independent Reading after reading this!


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