Reading for Fun Print or save as PDF

How is it defined?

Leisure reading entails self-selection of the material and medium one wishes to read for pleasure (Hughes-Hassell & Rodge, 2007). As leisure reading helps build foundational language and literacy skills, including verbal fluency and reading comprehension, students who spend time reading outside of school become better readers (Mol & Bus, 2011). Given the importance of reading to student success, schools should build strong literacy habits, and encourage and provide opportunities for students to read for pleasure (Nippold et al., 2005).

The Learning Bar’s framework on student engagement includes measures of social, institutional, and intellectual engagement. The time variables, such as Reading for fun, are a component of social engagement, situated alongside participation in sports and clubs, sense of belonging and making positive friendships at school.

Why is it important?

  • Lower ability readers benefit the most from exposure to print media and leisure time book reading (Mol & Bus, 2011).

  • Out of school learning activities, such as reading for pleasure, are linked to higher student achievement (Hofferth & Sandberg, 2001).

  • Student interest in reading for pleasure declines in early adolescence, which limits opportunities to refine fundamental reading skills (Nippold et al., 2005).

  • Attitudes toward leisure reading improve when reading materials and topics match students interests and motivations (Worthy et al., 1999).

How do we measure it?

In the OurSCHOOL elementary and secondary school surveys, students are asked about how much time they spend reading for fun during a typical week day. The results are reported as “the percentage of students who read more than 1 hour per day.”



Hofferth, S. L., & Sandberg, J. F. (2001). How American children spend their time. Journal of Marriage and Family, 63(2), 295-308.

Hughes-Hassell, S., & Rodge, P. (2007). The leisure reading habits of urban adolescents. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 51(1), 22–33.

Mol, S. E., & Bus, A. G. (2011). To read or not to read: A meta-analysis of print exposure from infancy to early adulthood. Psychological Bulletin, 137(2), 267-296.

Nippold, M. A., Duthie, J. K., & Larsen, J. (2005). Literacy as a leisure activity: Free-time preferences of older children and young adolescents. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 36(2), 93-102.

Worthy, J., Moorman, M., & Turner, M. (1999). What Johnny likes to read is hard to find in school. Reading Research Quarterly, 34(1), 12–27