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Importance of Reading Volume

My alma mater was books, a good library…. I could spend the rest of my life reading, just satisfying my curiosity. ~ Malcolm X

Establishing a Reading Habit

Have your students developed a habit of reading — not just in your class or at school but also at home or for pleasure? Students who do likely increase their reading volume — the amount of time spent reading along with the number of words they actually read — which “becomes a clear component of improving reading achievement” (Allington & McGill-Franzen, 2021) once foundational reading skills have been established.

Not surprisingly, reading a higher volume of text has a strong impact on students’ vocabulary and conceptual knowledge as well as their overall reading achievement (Allington & McGill-Franzen, 2021; Cunningham & Zibulsky, 2013). As former President Barack Obama reminds us, “Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible.” 

“We’re suggesting that [kids are] missing something if they don’t read but, actually, we’re condemning kids to a lesser life. If you had a sick patient, you would not try to entice them to take their medicine. You would tell them, ‘Take this or you’re going to die.’ We need to tell kids flat out: reading is not optional.” ― Walter Dean Myers

An essential part of getting students reading more often is finding engaging text for them to read. AdLit has a Diverse Books Project that can help you expand the perspectives and stories shared in your class. 

Why Are Diverse Stories Important to Engaging All Learners?

Angie Thomas expounds on Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop’s quote about “mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors” when talking about why diverse books are crucial for all of us.

You also want to consider the types of text you ask students to read within and outside of your class. Do you stick to the textbook or do you supplement with articles, blog posts, and podcasts? Do you intertwine fiction and nonfiction pieces?

Presenting a variety of text for students to read in and out of class provides more opportunities to hook students with your content and innately builds students’ critical thinking skills by asking them to make connections and ask questions across texts. It also just makes teaching more fun!

Supporting Resources

Text sets and read-alikes are two resources that help you to engage and build students’ reading volume by extending and evolving students’ interests in a particular topic, book, or genre of text. But how do you keep students’ reading volume up over the summer break? We know summer learning loss, particularly for students from low-income families, extends the achievement gap. Learn more about best practices for summer and after-school programs for adolescent learners from the National Summer Learning Association.

A diverse group of teenagers sitting at a library table discussing a text in front of them.

About Teaching Reading

A Text Set Approach to Teaching Content

Competence may be the reason for engagement. But maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe engagement is the cause of competence. ~ J. Wilhelm and M. W. Smith


girl sitting on a book with flying books

What Should Your Students Read Next?

It’s always exciting to watch your students fall in love with a character, book or series but how do you extend their excitement and engagement into their next literary adventure? Check out our Read-Alike suggestions. 

AdLit is made possible by a generous grant from

National Education Association (NEA)