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The importance of reading every day

This reading tip is based on an interview with reading counsellor Martin Holm. The interview was conducted by the National Knowledge Centre for Reading, a Danish governmental organisation. The focal point of the interview is the often-heard advice that students should be encouraged to read 20 minutes a day (and in many cases at home). Martin Holm offers some arguments as to why reading every day is so important.

First of all, it is important to note that there is no scientific evidence for the recommended 20 minutes of daily reading. Instead, Martin Holm instead identifies three good reasons why time should be set aside for reading every day, without specifying the exact timeframe.

The first reason Martin Holm outlines is that reading is a crucial cultural competence. By this he means that reading is a constant during the day in both our professional and private life. Because so much of our everyday culture is tied to reading, you’re at a real disadvantage if you don’t get your reading skills in place during school. We use reading skills when we read books and newspapers, but also bus schedules, product declarations, TV subtitles, recipes and so on. We read almost all the time and in many different contexts – both formal and informal.

Because of this, reading is a skill that brings with it many advantages if were good at it. For most of us, if we want to get good at something, it requires practice – preferably every day.

While reading factual text provides us with crucial knowledge, reading fiction can also improve our lives, letting us learn more about ourselves and others. American philosopher Martha Nussbaum (2016) has researched how literature helps to strengthen individual empathy. This happens, among other things, in the confrontation with other characters in a text. This way, you learn to relate to other people’s thoughts and emotions. There is thus a great potential for moral and ethical education in daily reading, through the above-mentioned confrontations with fictional characters.

The last argument for reading that Martin Holm makes, is completely formal. Many schools and places of secondary education has compulsory reading tests. To pass these, students often have to read for 30 minutes or more at a time. This can place great stress on inexperienced readers. It’s often recommended that students reach at least 10 pages a day either in school or at home.

But what about those students who are hard to motivate? According to Martin Holm, it’s important to shift the focus away from the idea that reading at home every day is a duty and instead present it as a right that opens up a world of possibilities for the individual. For students who find reading heavy and difficult, Martin Holm recommends looking out into the world and, for example, seeking inspiration and motivation at public libraries, where there are many good initiatives aimed at them.

Martin Holm also recommends a slightly different approach. He recommends books that are also available as audiobooks, which create the opportunity to alternate between listening and reading in the traditional sense. This can be done by listening to the first chapter, reading the next chapter and continuing this alternation. This approach to reading can boost motivation and make work and reading training easier for students who need it.

To summarise, it can be said that to become good at something, it requires an incredible amount of practice. Therefore, reading every day is a necessity if you want to become a good reader and be able to do well in many different contexts in life. To boost your reading, you can use some of the methods mentioned above.

Happy reading!

Sources:

Nussbaum, M. (1997). Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defence of Reform in Liberal Education. Harvard University Press.

Interview with reading counsellor, Martin Holm: https://koldingbib.dk/node/3697