why reading 20 minutes a day matters


Students wouldn’t think of missing a session at the gym, cutting their team’s practice, or skipping a rehearsal. However, many students (and adults?) wouldn’t think twice about going an entire day (week? year?) without picking up a book.

I know, I know: They read content online (e.g., articles, blogs, posts), and yes, this absolutely counts as reading. However, it doesn’t build their stamina, enhance their vocabulary, improve their writing skills, or boost their test scores the way reading a book does.

Nor does it foster a love of reading.

To foster book-love, we start every class with 10 minutes of independent, 100%-choice-book reading. As Penny Kittle, Donalyn Miller, Kelly Gallagher, and so many others assert, it’s tough to say reading is important for students to do (the Talk), if it’s not important enough to be part of our instruction (the Walk).

There’s always pushback to this. We have enough to do! I certainly did my fair share of pushing back as well.

Until I replaced my bellringers with the 10-minutes-of-reading protocol.

And never looked back.

With all of the research-backed bennies of 20 minutes of daily reading (below), students are halfway there ten minutes into class. Plus, students say they’re more likely to return to their books later in the day, because they’re always at a good part when the timer goes off!

And I read right along with them. While I could use those ten minutes to re-shelve books or take attendance or use the restroom (Hey, a teacher can dream!), what better way to show students that reading is part of my own narrative as well? #walkthewalk

Maybe fostering lifelong readers isn’t your priority. Consider all of the other standards reading helps our students meet. The single task of reading makes better readers, improves student writing, reinforces grammar and usage skills (and far more so than isolated grammar instruction), and even yields higher test scores.

Take a look at the chart and explainer video below to see the massive advantage that a 20-minutes-a-day reader has over less committed readers.

Do you want your students to quit Fake-Reading and start authentically reading? Let’s talk!

Okay, back to my book…


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