The Importance of Reading Outside School

How much does your child read?

Our last two blog posts have helped you calculate how accurately and how fast your child is reading. (If you missed those issues, click on the links below to read more.)

Today, we’re going to begin looking at how much time your child spends reading outside of school. We know that the more children read, the better readers they are; the stronger their reading skills, the more easily they will be able to handle the increasing demands of school work. How much a child reads every day is related to the child’s vocabulary growth, as well as to the growth of thinking skills.

Materials you will need for this activity:

  • A calendar or chart where you can easily keep track of your child’s reading
  • Pen/pencil

What you will do:

  • Reduce distractions. Your child may be holding a book, but if the TV, computer or music is on, the child may be distracted from reading.
  • Notice and note when your child is reading independently and when the child is being read to—for this exercise, both types of reading count.
  • What qualifies? “Discretionary reading” is just about anything that is not homework and does not have video: bedtime stories, family read-along, library books, text-to-speech readers (if they don’t have video), even comic books!
  • Each evening before bed, jot down your estimate of how many minutes your child spent reading that day (outside of schoolwork).
  • At the end of the month, add up all the minutes for that month. Divide that total by the number of days in the month to get average out-of-school reading minutes per day.
  • Track your child’s reading month to month and year to year.

child reading outside schoolWhat you want to see is that your child’s time spent in discretionary reading is growing. Steady growth indicates that your child’s reading skills and vocabulary are expanding to help the child handle school work—and to help build lifelong enjoyment of reading.

If your child is not reading outside of school, or his or her reading minutes per day stay the same or decrease, your child may be struggling to read and comprehend or may be turned off to reading for some other reason. If that’s the case, a professional assessment can get your child back on track. To find a Lexercise clinician in your area, just email us at or give us a call at 1-919-747-4557.

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Morgan Beidleman

A Lexercise Clinical Educator and a former marketing executive, Morgan joined Teach For America in 2007 with the desire to help struggling readers — a personal passion: "I struggled with reading as a child and without dedicated teachers and tutors, I never would have become the avid reader I am today. I understand, firsthand, how important extra time and support is when learning to read," she says. In 2008, after researching the track record of the Orton-Gillingham approach, Morgan convinced her principal to train teachers in the method. She has been using it ever since — including at Lexercise, which is based on the Orton-Gillingham approach — and is a firm believer in its effectiveness.