what to Read for pleasure makes us better readers?

¿Leer por placer nos hace mejores lectores?

One of the ideas most widely known on the reading, and enhanced by educators, is the need to increase in children reading for pleasure to improve the reading competency at the time: thus, read more it would be a means to read better.

But although this relationship is rarely discussed, the fact is that it is not clear if this cause-effect relationship: that is to say, it could be that the independent reader (reading for pleasure) leads to the attainment in reading (read better) but it could also be that children who are better at reading simply read more.

Well: a recent study seems to confirm that the independent reader has a limited effect on the achievement reader: so, read more does not always improve the reading competence.

The study, conducted by researchers of four universities from the US, used a sample of 436 pairs of identical twins of 10 years of age, to which was re-examined a year later (when they were 11 years old).

The attainment in reading of the twins was estimated using measures such as word recognition or reading comprehension. The degree of independence in reading was estimated you asked the twins what was their motivation toward reading, as well as asking their parents how often they read to their children for pleasure.

With the statistical analysis of the data, the researchers found that attainment in reading at the age of 10 influence the degree of independence reading at the age of 11, without that this fact is affected by how much independent reading will take out the twins. But she would not give the reverse effect, that is to say: the independence of reader 10 did not improve attainment in reading at age 11.

In addition, individual differences in the degree of independence in reading at age 11 partly reflect the genetic influence on attainment in reading at the age of 10. In other words: the genetic influence on attainment in reading at 10 years contributed to enhance the individual differences observed in the degree of independent reading at age 11.

This influence seems to suggest that those children who are more prone genetically towards reading, they would seek actively for more opportunities for free reading; and on the contrary: children with a genetic risk of reading difficulties would be less interested in these activities independent reading.

Although this last idea may sound the worst genetic determinism, is well founded: a few years ago, the authors conducted another study on twins of 9 years of age in which they proved that the decoding in the phonological, word recognition, listening comprehension, vocabulary, and reading comprehension were skills due to the genetic influence.

Even so, as says one of the researchers, Nicole Harlaar, the results of the study do not deny the importance of other aspects of independent reading that are not considered in the study, and that could be very important for the achievement reader, as could be the volume of reading, or the ability of the readings to motivate the children.

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