Read, Read, Read

"The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read" Mark Twain

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Reading for pleasure puts children ahead in the classroom, study finds


11 September 2013

Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers, according to new research from the Institute of Education (IOE).

The IOE study, which is believed to be the first to examine the effect of reading for pleasure on cognitive development over time, found that children who read for pleasure made more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling between the ages of 10 and 16 than those who rarely read.

The research was conducted by Dr Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown, who analysed the reading behaviour of approximately 6,000 young people being followed by the 1970 British Cohort Study, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. They looked at how often the teenagers read during childhood and their test results in maths, vocabulary and spelling at ages 5, 10 and 16.

The researchers, who are based in the IOE’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies, compared children from the same social backgrounds who had achieved the same test scores as each other both at ages 5 and 10. They discovered that those who read books often at age 10 and more than once a week at age 16 gained higher results in all three tests at age 16 than those who read less regularly.

Perhaps surprisingly, reading for pleasure was found to be more important for children’s cognitive development between ages 10 and 16 than their parents’ level of education. The combined effect on children’s progress of reading books often, going to the library regularly and reading newspapers at 16 was four times greater than the advantage children gained from having a parent with a degree.

Children who were read to regularly by their parents at age 5 performed better in all three tests at age 16 than those who were not helped in this way.

Dr Sullivan notes that reading for pleasure had the strongest effect on children’s vocabulary development, but the impact on spelling and maths was still significant. “It may seem surprising that reading for pleasure would help to improve children’s maths scores,” she said. “But it is likely that strong reading ability will enable children to absorb and understand new information and affect their attainment in all subjects.”

The study also found that having older siblings had a negative effect on children’s test scores in all three subject areas but particularly for vocabulary. Having younger siblings had less effect on test performance but was linked to lower vocabulary scores. The researchers suggest this may be because children in larger families spend less time in one-to-one conversations with their parents and therefore have less opportunity to develop their vocabularies.

Dr Sullivan says this study underlines the importance of encouraging children to read – even in the digital age. “There are concerns that young people’s reading for pleasure has declined. There could be various reasons for this, including more time spent in organised activities, more homework, and of course more time spent online,” she said.

“However, new technologies, such as e-readers, can offer easy access to books and newspapers and it is important that government policies support and encourage children’s reading, particularly in their teenage years.”

Dr Sullivan also emphasises that improving adult literacy could be important for children’s cognitive development. “Children of parents who had reading problems performed significantly less well in all three tests than children of parents who reported no reading problems,” she said. “Given the prevalence of adult illiteracy in Britain, with functional illiteracy estimated at 15 per cent, policies to increase adult literacy rates could significantly improve children’s learning outcomes.”

“Many of the young people included in this study are now parents themselves, and their literacy levels and enjoyment of reading will in turn influence their children’s educational attainment.”

‘Social inequalities in cognitive scores at age 16: The role of reading’, by Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown, is the latest paper to be published in the CLS Working Paper Series. Further information from:

Claire Battye
020 7612 6516

Meghan Rainsberry
020 7612 6530


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Gift Ideas for Christmas 2014

SALT LAKE CITY — This holiday season give the gift of a story. Books make memorable and thoughtful gifts. Here are some exceptional books to choose from, something for each age group.

Teri’s picks:

Board Books

1. BabyLit board books by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver

So adorable, you’ll want to buy every book in this series for the babies in your life. Colorful and playful adaptations of literary classics, the series includes new releases “Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles: A Sounds Primer,” “Anna Karenina: A Fashion Primer,” and Holiday favorite “A Christmas Carol.” Plus many more fun literary favorites.

2. “The Night Before Christmas: The Classic Edition” by Clement C. Moore and Charles Santore

This New York Times best-selling edition of the timeless Christmas poem is now available as a board book. Spread some holiday cheer to the little ones on your list.

Picture Books

1. “Press Here” by Herve Tullet

Simple, yet genius, this interactive picture book is an immediate favorite with young kids. They will ask to read it over and over so that they can press the dots, tilt the book, clap and blow.

2. “Christmas from Heaven: The True Story of the Berlin Candy Bomber” by Tom Brokaw and Robert T. Barrett

Brought to life in a beautiful picture book, this is the memorable and heartwarming true story of an America solider dropping candy and treats to the war-poor children of Germany during World War II. The book includes a DVD of Tom Brokaw telling the story during the 2012 Mormon Tabernacle Christmas Concert.

Early Chapter Books

1. “Lulu Walks the Dog” by Judith Viorst and Lane Smith

Now available in paperback, children’s book legends Judith Viorst and Lane Smith take feisty Lulu on a new adventure. Fun storytelling and engaging illustrations make this book, and the others in the Lulu series, perfect for early readers.

2. The Bailey School Kids Series by Debbie Dadey and Marcia T. Jones

These classic short chapter books are funny and entertaining. The series includes holiday specials, such as “Mrs. Claus Doesn’t Climb Telephone Poles.”

Middle-grade Novels

1. “Unhooking the Moon” by Gregory Hughes

Loaded with heart, spunk and adventure, this book about an orphaned brother and sister team is an award-winning novel. Boys and girls alike will enjoy the exciting story.

2. “Fortunately, the Milk” by Neil Gaiman and Skottie Young

Things quickly get odd and hilarious in this new story of time travel and breakfast cereal from favorite author Neil Gaiman and award-winning illustrator Skottie Young. A quirky, memorable tale that kids will love to read.

Young Adult Novels

1. “Steelheart” by Brandon Sanderson

For the sci-fi loving teens on your list, pick up Brandon Sanderson’s recent release for teens. Action-packed, thrilling and hard to put down, this book will leave readers eager for the sequel.

2. “Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me” by Kristen Chandler

Local author Kristen Chandler’s contemporary novel set in Yellowstone is hard to put down. The characters are vibrant and the struggles feel real, genuine. The protagonist is feisty, smart and tough but still unsure of herself. Chandler has a gift for fun romance and thought-provoking plot.

Novels for Adults

1. “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion

This debut novel is quickly capturing hearts. Sharply written and guaranteed to make you laugh out loud, the story is irresistible and replete with complex characters.

2. “Bellman and Black” by Diane Setterfield

The long-awaited second novel by Diane Setterfield, best-selling author of “The Thirteenth Tale,” is here. Poetic and mysterious, the favorite author’s new book is hailed by critics as one of the best books of the year.

Nonfiction for Adults

1. “The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend” by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

Red Cloud, a great Sioux warrior-statesman was the only Indian leader to defeat the U.S. Army in war, forcing the government to seek peaceful means of settlement. He stands as a hero that few of us know about. Carefully researched and well-written, this biography is sure to become a valuable asset to the historical library of the American West.

2. “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital” by Sheri Fink

Physician and Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Sheri Fink reconstructs five days at a hospital immediately following Hurricane Katrina. Written after six years of reporting, Fink reveals the chaos, drama and problems that occurred for caregivers when the power went out, the heat raged and the water continued to rise.

About the Author: Teri Harman

Teri Harman, author and book enthusiast, writes a monthly column for and contributes book-related segments to Studio 5. Her debut novel, “Blood Moon,” is now available in stores and online. Join in the magic and chaos at

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Article on Book Choice

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Lexile? What is lexile?

What is a Lexile Measure?

A Lexile measure is a valuable piece of information about either an individual’s reading ability or the difficulty of a text, like a book or magazine article. The Lexile measure is shown as a number with an “L” after it — 880L is 880 Lexile.

A student gets his or her Lexile reader measure from a reading test or program. For example, if a student receives an 880L on her end-of-grade reading test, she is an 880 Lexile reader. Higher Lexile measures represent a higher level of reading ability. A Lexile reader measure can range from below 200L for emergent readers to above 1600L for advanced readers

A book, article or piece of text gets a Lexile text measure when it’s analyzed by MetaMetrics. For example, the first “Harry Potter” book measures 880L, so it’s called an 880 Lexile book. A Lexile text measure is based on the semantic and syntactic elements of a text. Many other factors affect the relationship between a reader and a book, including its content, the age and interests of the reader, and the design of the actual book. The Lexile text measure is a good starting point in the book-selection process, with these other factors then being considered.

The idea behind The Lexile Framework for Reading is simple: if we know how well a student can read and how hard a specific book is to comprehend, we can predict how well that student will likely understand the book. For example, if a reader has a Lexile measure of 600L (600 Lexile), the reader will be forecasted to comprehend approximately 75% of a book with the same Lexile measure (600L). The 75% comprehension rate is called “targeted” reading. This rate is based on independent reading; if the reader receives help, the comprehension rate will increase. The target reading rate is the point at which a reader will comprehend enough to understand the text, but also will face some reading challenges. At this point, a reader is not bored by text that is too easy, but also does not experience too much difficulty in understanding.

When used together, Lexile measures help a reader find books and articles at an appropriate level of difficulty (visit Find a Book), and determine how well that reader will likely comprehend a text. You also can use Lexile measures to monitor a reader’s growth in reading ability over time.

Lexile Measures Help Readers Grow, and Help Parents and Teachers Know

Teachers and parents can best serve a student’s literacy needs when they treat him or her as a unique individual, rather than as a test score or a grade-level norm or average. The reading abilities of young people in the same grade at school can vary just as much as their shoe sizes. However, grade-leveling methods commonly are used to match students with books.

When a Lexile text measure matches a Lexile reader measure, this is called a “targeted” reading experience. The reader will likely encounter some level of difficulty with the text, but not enough to get frustrated. This is the best way to grow as a reader—with text that’s not too hard but not too easy.

When you receive a Lexile measure, try not to focus on the exact number. Instead, consider a reading range around the number. Use this Lexile range in our Find a Book search. And don’t be afraid to look at books above and below someone’s Lexile range. Just know that a reader might find these books particularly challenging or simple.

If a student tackles reading material above his or her Lexile range, consider what additional instruction or lower-level reading resources might help. Ask him or her to keep track of unknown words, and look them up together. Or take turns reading aloud to each other to chop up the reading experience into smaller portions. Likewise, you can reward students with books that fall below his or her Lexile range for an easier reading experience.

When Should You Worry?

As an English team at Pleasant Grove Junior High, we are concerned if your child scores below a 700 on the SRI reading test, which determines Lexile level.  All of our 7th and 8th graders take this test and also the 9th graders that have struggled with reading in the past.   A low score does not automatically mean that there are reading problems.  We look at other factors including writing samples, grades, and we will usually give parents a call.  We also have our reading teacher call them in for a quick fluency assessment.  Many times a low score could mean a bad day or not enough time.  If there does seem to be a problem, then we have interventions we can use to help improve reading skills.  If you are concerned at any time about your student’s reading skills, talk to their English teacher.

The information in this article comes from and the Pleasant Grove Junior High English Team.

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How to Help Your Child Become a Better Reader

  1. Set a reading time at home where the TV, computer, and other electronics are turned off, including music.  20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Read as a family.  This can be religious texts or anything that interests you.  Read about a future vacation spot or research an illness of someone you care about.
  3. Turn the closed captions on when you watch movies.  They say they won’t read them, but their eyes are naturally drawn to the words.
  4. Talk to them about what they are reading.
  5. Give your child access to books.  Buy them a book for Christmas or their birthday.
  6. Many movies come from books.  Find out if there is a book that preceded your student’s favorite movie and read it with them.
  7. Take your student to the library.  Let them find what they are interested in.  You can download audiobooks from the Pleasant Grove Library Website.
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PGJr English Teacher Recommendations for Good Books

Check out some of the books that our own PGJr teachers recommend for good reading.  (*may be for more mature readers.)

Mrs. Bushman

  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson*
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green*

Mrs. Johnston

  • Wonder by RJ Palacio
  • Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson
  • The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Miss Baltich

  • I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
  • Variant by Robison Wells
  • Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World That Won’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Mrs. Wagstaff

  • Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Berry and Ridley Pearson
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Mrs. Lund

  • Code Name: Verity by Elizabeth Wein
  • Variant by Robison Wells
  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer
  • Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Mr. Chappell

  • Lunar Chronicles:  Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress by Marissa Meyer

Mrs. Phippen

  • The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
  • The Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney
  • Vampirates:  Demons of the Ocean by Justin Somper

Mrs. Harter

  • Under the Blood Red Sun by Graham Salisbury
  • Interworld Trilogy by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
  • Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bicigalepi
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It doesn’t matter what you read, just read. Find something you enjoy and get lost in it for a little while every day. It will be time well spent.


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