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Juliet Searle

Secondary English Subject Lead

‘Reading for pleasure’ has been defined by the National Literacy Trust as “reading that we do of our own free will, anticipating the satisfaction that we will get from the act of reading. It also refers to reading that having begun at someone else’s request we continue because we are interested in it” (Clark and Rumbold, National Literacy Trust, 2006).

Promoting reading can have a profound impact on children and adults and their future and their well-being. This includes improving their reading attainment and writing ability, breadth of vocabulary, reading confidence, general knowledge, community participation, text comprehension and grammar.

The Reading Framework was published in 2023. Reading Framework, 2023. The framework includes guidance on improving reading in schools. One of the key strands within the framework is Reading for Pleasure.


Reading is the vehicle through which students acquire knowledge, develop critical thinking skills, and enhance their vocabulary. Reading for pleasure in schools not only introduces students to the joy of books but also helps them establish a strong foundation in language and comprehension skills. As students read for enjoyment, they inadvertently improve their reading proficiency, which is essential for success in all subjects.


Fostering a love for reading in schools extends far beyond the classroom. When students develop a habit of reading for pleasure, they are more likely to become lifelong learners. They understand that knowledge is not confined to textbooks and that books can be windows to different worlds and perspectives. A love for learning can have a profound impact on a student’s future academic pursuits and personal development.


Reading for pleasure can expose students to diverse characters, cultures, and experiences. By immersing themselves in the stories of others, students can develop empathy and an understanding of the world beyond their immediate surroundings. This can then foster a sense of global citizenship and help students appreciate the richness of human diversity.


In the digital age, where screens dominate our lives, reading provides a unique opportunity for students to unleash their creativity and imagination. Unlike passive forms of entertainment, reading requires active engagement. When students read, they paint mental pictures, envision worlds, and create characters in their minds. This imaginative exercise is essential for developing creative thinking skills, which are invaluable in problem-solving and innovation.


Books often explore complex emotions, challenging situations, and moral problems. Reading about characters facing adversity and triumphing over challenges can help students develop emotional resilience. This teaches them that setbacks are a part of life and that they can overcome them. This emotional growth is vital for a student’s overall well-being.


Studies have consistently shown that students who read for pleasure tend to perform better in school. Their enhanced reading skills translate into improved performance in various subjects, including mathematics and science. Reading for pleasure expands a student’s knowledge base and vocabulary.


Incorporating reading for pleasure into the school culture can also foster a sense of community. Book clubs, reading challenges, and shared reading experiences bring students, teachers, and parents together around a common interest. This sense of belonging and shared enthusiasm for reading can create a positive and supportive learning environment

Reading for pleasure creates a foundation upon which academic success, personal growth, and a lifelong love for learning can be built.

Schools must prioritize and promote reading for pleasure by providing access to a diverse range of books, creating inviting reading spaces, and encouraging students to explore the limitless worlds that literature offers. In doing so, they can equip students with the tools needed to thrive academically, emotionally, and intellectually. Reading for pleasure in schools is an investment in the future of our students.


Further reading:

Batini, J., F., Luperini, V., Cei, E., Izzo, D. and Toti, G. (2021) The Association Between Reading and Emotional Development: A Systematic Review Journal of Education and training studies 9(1)12-48.

Clark, C., & Teravainen-Goff, A. (2018). Mental Wellbeing, Reading and Writing: How Children and Young People’s Mental Wellbeing Is Related to Their Reading and Writing Experiences. National Literacy Trust Research Report: National Literacy Trust report

Sullivan, A., & Brown, M. (2015). Reading for pleasure and progress in vocabulary and mathematics. British Educational Research Journal, 41(1), 971–991. https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3180

Torppa, M., Niemi, P., Vasalampi, K., Lerkkanen, M. K., Tolvanen, A., & Poikkeus, A. M. (2020). Leisure Reading (But Not Any Kind) and Reading Comprehension Support Each Other—A Longitudinal Study Across Grades 1 and 9. Child Development, 91(3), 876–900. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13241

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