Reading and Student Success

By Gina Bellisario

It’s widely known that literacy is important. After all, we use our reading and writing skills every day. But how important is it to a student’s success? The answer is clear: The more students read, the more they achieve.

Why read?

Research proves there’s a strong connection between reading and achievement. Students who read independently on a consistent basis:

–develop their vocabulary at increased rate

–strengthen their verbal fluency

–strengthen their reading comprehension

–score higher on achievement tests across all subjects

–have greater content knowledge

–become more interested in current affairs

–understand complex material more easily 

–have a stronger understanding of grammar rules 

Now, consider this: Each day that a student doesn’t read is a missed opportunity to experience the positive effects listed above. It is a missed opportunity to communicate their needs more effectively; perform better on a vocabulary quiz; score higher on an Advanced Placement (AP) Exam, the ACT, or the SAT; write a more eloquent college application essay; or feel a sense of accomplishment. It’s lost potential for learning and growth.

How much should you read?

Data shows that, starting in kindergarten, students who read 20 minutes per day will hear or see over one million words per year. As a result, by sixth grade, they will likely score 90 percent better on standardized tests. Reading every day for 20 minutes also stimulates the part of the brain that helps make meaning from words and build connections with them. This, in turn, leads to increased comprehension and retention and, ultimately, higher test scores.

Need a book recommendation?

Ask your student’s tutor! Reading tutors often have a list of well-loved titles for all grade levels. Students and their tutors might check out the recommended book lists that librarians compile for every age group. Librarians often consult review journals to see which books have been reviewed well and can recommend the perfect ones for even the most reluctant readers.

Now is the best time for students to start reading independently if they aren’t already. Twenty minutes a day will add up to a lifetime of greater achievement.


Cleaver, Samantha. “7 Surprising Facts About Reading That Prove It All Adds Up.” We Are Teachers, 19 Aug.

Cullinan, Bernice E. “Independent Reading and School Achievement.” American Library Association, 2000,

“How Reading 20 Minutes a Day Impacts Your Child.” WCPO, WCPO, 14 Feb. 2017,

Kemp, Carla. “MRI Shows Association between Reading to Young Children and Brain Activity.” American
Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 25 Apr. 2015, 


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