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Reading Volume and Reading Achievement: A Review of Recent Research

Authors:
  • Retired from the University of Tennessee

Abstract

Although there have been a substantial number of research studies focused on improving the field’s understanding of the development of the ability to read, very few of these studies have accounted for the potential role that extensive engagement in the act of reading might play in the development of reading proficiency. There are several views on the role, if any, that extensive reading plays in reading development. In this article, using research published since 2000, the evidence that reading volume plays a role in reading development now seems clearer.
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Reading Research Quarterly, 0(0)
pp. 1–8 | doi:10.1002/rrq.404
© 2021 International Literacy Association.
ABSTRACT
Although there have been a substantial number of research studies focused
on improving the field’s understanding of the development of the ability to
read, very few of these studies have accounted for the potential role that
extensive engagement in the act of reading might play in the development
of reading proficiency. There are several views on the role, if any, that ex-
tensive reading plays in reading development. In this article, using research
published since 2000, the evidence that reading volume plays a role in read-
ing development now seems clearer.
Over the past 50 years, folks have worried about reading achieve-
ment from an international context (e.g., Pearson, 2007; Pearson
& Goodin, 2010; Woodward, 1986). The fact that the reading
performance of students in U.S. schools does not rank above the levels of
achievement produced by students in several other developed nations
seems to suggest that U.S. schools are not nearly as proficient in produc-
ing reading achievement when U.S. student reading achievement is com-
pared with that of students in other nations in the world. The level of
reading achievement of U.S. students rankles policymakers, legislators,
and governors. Yet, even with all the attention paid to the current level of
reading achievement of U.S. students, the importance of the amount of
time students spend reading remains consistently undervalued.1
One can worry about students’ reading achievement for a single,
good reason: The evidence indicates that students today spend less time,
both in and out of school, engaged in reading activity than did their par-
ents and grandparents (National Endowment for the Arts [NEA], 2007).
It seems that proficient reading, like virtually every other human profi-
ciency, benefits through extensive engagement (or practice) with the
activity (Ericsson & Harwell, 2019; Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch- Romer,
1993; Macnamara, Hambrick, & Oswald, 2014). Yet, the reading volume
experienced by students and the role it may play in their reading devel-
opment appears to have been largely ignored in the design of federal and
state plans to improve reading achievement. In addition, the National
Reading Panel (NRP; National Institute of Child Health and Human
Development [NICHD], 2000) dismissed studies reporting relations
between reading volume and reading achievement, noting that “although
there is an extensive amount of correlational data linking amount of
reading and reading achievement (Cunningham & Stanovich, 1998;
Krashen, 1993), such studies do not permit a clear delineation of what is
antecedent and what is consequent” (p. 3- 10).
Richard L. Allington
Anne M. McGill- Franzen
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA
Reading Volume and
ReadingAchievement:
AReviewofRecent Research
2 | Reading Research Quarterly, 0(0)
Following the release of the NRP (NICHD , 2000)
report, the NEA (2004, 2007) released two reports on read-
ing activity and reading achievement. The NEA scholars
reviewed the correlational research on the topic of the
relation between reading volume and reading achieve-
ment and, in the two reports, drew different conclusions
for the correlational data. The NRP wrote that correla-
tional research did not permit a clear delineation between
cause and effect, so the panel ignored correlational
research studies. Cunningham (2001) noted that the NRP
crafted their own definition of which research designs
were scientific, which left hundreds of scientific studies of
reading volume and reading achievement out of their
equation. He noted that when one examines any number
of concerns that members of a society might have, there
exists no such denigration of correlational studies. Current
advice for pregnant mothers, advice on the dangers of obe-
sity, advice on alcohol consumption, and advice on the
dangers of smoking cigarettes were each stimulated by
correlational research studies. The widespread use of cor-
relational evidence denies the argument that such research
is of little value and, worse, unscientific.
The scholars at the NEA disagreed with the NRP
(NICHD, 2000), arguing that it is the consistency of the
evidence of a relation between reading volume and reading
achievement in the correlational studies that is important,
and that we should believe that more extensive reading
activity improves reading proficiencies. For instance, in the
Preface to the NEAs second report (Gioia, 2007), the chair-
man of the NEA commented on the research that was
available:
Strictly understood, the data in this report do not necessarily
show cause and effect. The statistics merely indicate correla-
tions. The habit of daily reading, for instance, overwhelmingly
correlates with better reading skills and higher academic
achievement. On the other hand, poor reading skills correlate
with lower levels of financial and job success. At the risk of
being criticized by social scientists, I suggest that since all the
data demonstrate consistent and mostly linear relationships
between reading and these positive results— and between poor
reading and negative results— reading has played a decisive fac-
tor. Whether or not people read, and indeed how much and
how often they read, affects their lives in crucial ways. (pp. 5– 6)
For us, the concluding sentence of this second NEA
report summarized the findings of the many correlational
studies that have been conducted.
Recent Research on Reading
Volume and Reading Achievement
In this article, we review the recent research (since 2000) link-
ing reading volume with reading achievement and do not
review the many earlier correlational studies on the topic of
interest. Instead, we review recent studies that went beyond
simple correlational analyses. Recent developments in the
research methodologies that might be used to examine any
relation between reading volume and reading achievement
have provided new opportunities not available earlier when
the correlational studies were completed.
The issue of reading volume in commercial reading
series has been a point of contention for nearly a century.
In 1934, Thorndike noted that were a student to read the
book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, that activity
alone would provide nearly twice as much text as a stu-
dent would read in the readers used in grades 4– 6. Thus,
although Thorndike wrote scathingly about the sparse
volume of text for students to read, today’s commercial
core reading programs seem designed to continue to offer
quite limited opportunities to engage in reading. If we
look at how much reading is expected of students during
a school day, we might conclude that most core reading
programs offer a bare- bones diet of text to read.
Brenner and Hiebert (2010) examined all six core read-
ing programs available for use in high- poverty U.S. schools
and noted that there is no standard for determining what
would be an adequate volume of text to support reading
development. However, the researchers found that even if
one included all of the texts recommended in the teacher’s
manuals, including decodable texts and leveled texts, along
with the selections in the reading anthology, one finds that
very little text is available to read daily in commercial read-
ing programs. That is, core reading programs, on average,
offered only 15 minutes of daily reading using the rate of
reading of students performing at the 25th percentile for
their grade level. If one uses the rate of reading of the aver-
age reader (50th percentile), then the core reading pro-
grams provide only seven minutes of reading during a daily
90- minute reading lesson. Some of the core reading pro-
grams available today would supply texts for reading for as
little as 11% of the time allocated for a 90- minute reading
lesson. That means that some students will spend roughly
80 minutes of every 90- minute reading period doing some-
thing other than engaging in reading. It seems unlikely that
the developers of these core reading programs believed that
seven to 15 minutes of daily reading activity was sufficient
to develop high levels of literacy. However, seven to 15 min-
utes of actual reading activity is basic to the design of U.S.
core reading programs.
Recent Research Investigating
the Relation Between Reading
Volume and Reading Achievement
Since 2000 (the publication date of the NRP report), there
have been several published papers on the effect of having
students engage in extensive reading activity. These stud-
ies attempted to answer “the chicken or the egg” question:
Reading Volume and Reading Achievement: A Review of Recent Research | 3
Does extensive reading activity improve reading achieve-
ment, or does a high level of reading achievement result
in more extensive reading activity?
Torppa and colleagues (2020) examined the data on
the leisure reading activities of 2,525 Finnish students
from age 5 until they reached age 15 and noted that there
existed a common belief that
in addition to school related reading activities, reading for
pleasure promotes reading development. The assertion seems
plausible as avid readers devote considerable time and effort to
reading, and they receive massive practice for automatization
and accumulating lexicon (e.g., a Harry Potter book has as
many as 250,000 words). Leisure reading may thus result in
practice that easily surpasses the amount of text students read
for school. (p. 883)
To evaluate the direction of influence of extensive read-
ing activity on reading achievement, Torppa and colleagues
(2020) examined both categories of reading activity (in
and out of school) that students might engage in. The
researchers noted that reading volume (print exposure)
was assessed at ages 5, 7, 8, 9, and 13. Prereading skills were
tested at age 5 and reading skills at ages 7, 8, 9, 14, and
15. Using a random intercept cross- lagged panel model,
Torppa and colleagues found that reading skills and read-
ing volume (print exposure) influenced each other. Using
the random intercept cross- lagged panel model, they iden-
tified within- person associations of leisure reading, flu-
ency, and comprehension. The researchers found that the
effects in the primary grades ran from reading fluency
toreading comprehension and reading volume (print
ex posure), so from reading achievement to the volume of
reading. The positive effect of reading volume on reading
achievement only emerged in grade 3 and onward. In light
of these results, Torppa and colleagues (2019) concluded,
The findings specify earlier findings of correlations between
individuals by showing that reading comprehension improve-
ment, in particular, is predicted by within- individual increases
in book reading…irrespective of the individual’s overall level
in leisure reading, increased leisure reading consumption can
promote reading comprehension. (p. 885)
Van Bergen, Vasalampi, and Torppa (2020) reported a
prospective study of students from age 5 to age 15, using
autocorrelations to examine the codevelopment of read-
ing volume with reading fluency and comprehension. The
researchers found a reciprocal relation between reading
volume and reading achievement, with reading achieve -
ment predicting reading volume in the early grades but
reading volume predicting reading achievement begin-
ning in grade 3 and continuing beyond. Van Bergen and
colleagues applied direction of causality models to infer
the causal relations between reading volume and reading
achievement and concluded,
This result is in line with the findings of Torppa et al. (2019),
who showed that from grade 3 onward, frequent book reading
predicted growth in reading comprehension. In both Torppa et
al.’s study and the current study, most of the print exposure
[reading volume] reading skills effects only appeared from
grade 3 onward. This fits with grade 3 being a turning point in
reading education, when the curriculum switches from learn-
ing to read to reading to learn. After having mastered the
technique of reading, children can choose reading material
according to their own interests. In other words, at that age,
motivation (i.e., the choice to read) can bring about significant
individual differences in the frequency and complexity of the
reading experiences. (pp. 13– 14)
Summarizing their findings, van Bergen and colleagues
concluded, “How much children read seems to matter
most after the shift from learning to read to reading to
learn” (p. 1).
Mol and Bus (2011) meta- analyzed 99 studies that re -
ported correlations between reading volume and reading
achievement, and also found a positive relation that became
even more evident over time: modest correlations in kin-
dergarten and strong correlations in higher education.
Our findings suggest that the relation between print exposure
[reading volume] and reading components [reading achieve-
ment] is reciprocal, as the intensity of print exposure also
depends on students’ reading proficiency. Print exposure be -
comes more important for reading components with growing
age, in particular for oral language and word recognition. (p.
289)
Mol and Bus noted that the relation between reading vol-
ume and reading achievement was reciprocal because
whereas reading achievement was linked to reading vol-
ume in the primary grades, the volume of reading an
older student engages in is linked to the student’s reading
achievement.
Finally, Lewis and Samuels (2005) conducted a meta-
analysis of 49 studies of the effects of providing students
with independent reading time during the school day and
reported that allocating school time for independent read -
ing provided
support for a moderately strong, positive, relationship between
reading exposure and reading outcomes. Separate analysis of
d- index effect sizes from experimental studies provided clear
causal evidence that students who have in- school independent
reading time in addition to regular reading instruction, do sig-
nificantly better on measures of reading achievement than
peers who have not had reading time. (p. 2)
Lewis and Samuels also noted that “in no instance did
allowing students time for independent reading result in a
decrease in reading achievement” (p. 15). Thus, evidence
of the positive relation between reading volume and read-
ing achievement was again demonstrated.
The simple answer to the question of whether there is a
relation between reading volume and reading achievement
is yes— but a qualified yes, with the volume to achievement
relation appearing only after initial reading proficiency has
developed. The evidence available indicates that, initially,
4 | Reading Research Quarterly, 0(0)
the level of reading achievement drives the relation ob -
served between achievement and volume, but as students
become more proficient readers, the relation changes such
that volume of reading drives reading achievement.
Reading Development of Students
From Low- Income Families Lags
Behind That of Students From
Middle- Class Families
At age 17, students from low- income families exhibit a
four- year lag in their reading achievement when com-
pared with the reading achievement of students from more
economically advantaged families. One largely unexplored
basis for this gap is the ease of access that economically
disadvantaged students have to books they might want to
read. When children’s and young adult books are not easily
accessible, any potential links between reading volume
and reading achievement would be affected, and book
reading was noted by Torppa et al. (2020) as particularly
influential on the development of reading comprehension.
Pribesh, Gavigan, and Dickinson (2011) examined differ-
ences in libraries in schools with and without concentra-
tions of low- income students and “found that the students
in most need— those attending schools with the highest
concentrations of students living in poverty— had the few-
est school library resources to draw on” (p. 143). Similarly,
Neuman and Celano (2001) and Neuman and Moland
(2019) also found that in low- income neighborhoods,
fewer childrens books were available in stores, childcare
centers, elementary schools, and public libraries than were
available in middle- class schools and communities. These
studies indicate that students from low- income families
have much more restricted access to children’s books than
do students from higher income families.
Evans, Kelley, Sikora, and Treiman (2010) report on
their analyses of an international database (27 nations,
70,000 cases). Controlling for each family’s socioeco-
nomic status, fathers occupation, and parental education,
the researchers found that the effect of home access to
books was about the same size as the influence of parental
education level, twice as large an influence as father’s
occupation, and a stronger influence on reading achieve-
ment than was the case for family socioeconomic status.
Students who grew up in homes with many books com-
pleted three more years of schooling than did students
from largely bookless homes, independent of social class,
parent education, and parent occupation. This relation
held in rich versus poor nations and under communism
and capitalism. The advantage of living in a home where
many books were available was twice as large as the differ-
ence between having a professional father and having an
unskilled laborer as ones father. Similarly, Schubert and
Becker (2010) found, again from an international per-
spective, that the number of books in the home was a sig-
nificant predictor of reading achievement even when
family income, parental education, language used in the
home, and other factors were controlled. The influence of
the number of books in a home on reading achievement
was almost as large as family socioeconomic status as a
predictor of students’ reading achievement.
Students from low- income families have access to
books that is more severely restricted than the access to
books that more economically advantaged students have.
As Worthy, Moorman, and Turner (1999) observed, what
Johnny likes to read is hard to find in school (or at least
hard to find in schools serving primarily students from
low- income families). When students have limited access
to age- appropriate books, it is difficult to suggest that
students from low- income families seem uninterested in
reading or uninterested in checking books out of the
school library.
Given that Brenner and Hiebert (2010) demonstrated
that text is in short supply in all six core reading programs
and that Neuman and Celano (2001) and Neuman and
Moland (2019) showed that childrens books are far more
limited in the neighborhoods and schools where the level
of family poverty is high, perhaps it is fortunate, as Lind -
say (2018) found, that participating in childrens book
distribution programs produced significant reading achieve -
ment gains. (A variety of programs distribute books free
to children from low- income families; for instance, both
Reading Is Fundamental and Dolly Parton’s Imagination
Library distribute books at no cost to children’s parents.)
Lindsay concluded that when examining the outcomes of
rigorous experimental studies, where access to books was
manipulated among populations of randomly assigned
subjects, the impact of increasing book access on reading
achievement produced an effect size of d= 0.435, and
there was also an impact of increased motivation to read,
with an effect size of d=0.967. In other words, if students
from economically disadvantaged families were lucky
enough to have the ease of access to books that is com-
mon for students from more economically advantaged
families, the reading achievement of students from low-
income families might also match the reading achieve-
ment of more advantaged students.
Summer Reading,
Reading Volume, and
Reading Achievement
Another issue related to reading volume has also arisen:
summer reading loss. We initiated a new line of research
focused on enhancing the access that students from low-
income families had to children’s books during the
Reading Volume and Reading Achievement: A Review of Recent Research | 5
summer months. The accumulation of several reports on
the limited availability of books in low- income homes,
schools, and neighborhoods led us to develop a research
proposal focused on providing students from low- income
families with the opportunity to self- select summer books.
Our effort had also been prompted by the work on sum-
mer learning done by Heyns (1978), who concluded, “The
single summer activity that is most strongly and consis-
tently related to summer learning is reading” (p. 161). This
simple statement led us to consider what we might do to
enhance the reading that students from low- income fami-
lies did during the summer months. We prepared a pro-
posal that provided spring book fairs where students from
low- income families could self- select books for summer
reading. The proposal was to test whether actually putting
books that students wanted to read into their hands would
foster more summer reading activity and, perhaps, im -
prove their reading achievement.
We focused on books for students from economically
disadvantaged families because the research available
indicated that in these homes, books of any sort, includ-
ing childrens books, were often in short supply and that
those students also attended schools where childrens
books were typically less common than in schools serving
more economically advantaged students (Neuman &
Celano, 2001; Neuman & Moland, 2019; Pribesh et al.,
2011; Schubert & Becker, 2010). The children’s books that
students self- selected at the book fairs then were pur-
chased for distribution to them. The design of both stud-
ies put the 10 to 12 self- selected books in each summer
books student’s hands every summer for three consecu-
tive years.
For readers not familiar with summer reading loss,
suffice it to say that students from low- income families
lose two to three months of reading achievement every
summer (Alexander, Entwisle, & Olson, 2001; Atteberry
& McEachin, 2021; Cooper, Charlton, Valentine, Muhlen-
bruck, & Borman, 2000). More economically advantaged
students typically add a month of growth in reading
achievement at the same time that students from low-
income families are losing ground. Most economically
advantaged families are likely to own many childrens
books, whereas only a few low- income families own many
childrens books. These studies were designed to test the
hypothesis that expanding the ease of access to childrens
books would increase students’ reading volume, which
might enhance their reading achievement.
In each of the participating high- poverty schools, we
randomly selected students for either the treatment group
(summer books) or the control group (no summer books).
In the spring of each school year at each of the high-
poverty schools, we organized a book fair where the sum-
mer books students would self- select their books. These
students selected 10 to 12 books for their voluntary sum-
mer reading each year. In both studies, students received
their summer books on the final day of school each year.
The summer book distributions continued each spring
over a three- year period at both sites (the students were
graduating first grade when the studies began). Both
studies involved students from a number of schools.
Students were drawn from 17 urban elementary schools
in Florida for the first study and from 43 rural elementary
schools in east Tennessee for the second study (Allington
et al., 2010; McGill- Franzen, Allington, & Ward, 2020).
Gifting the 10 to 12 self- selected books to students
each summer resulted in the reading achievement of the
summer books students, at the end of each of the two stud-
ies, being significantly higher than the reading achieve-
ment of other students from low- income families who
served as the control (no summer books) groups. In the fall
following the completion of grade 3, we gathered reading
achievement data from state reading assessments for the
students in both groups. Reading achievement gains of the
summer books students were larger than the gains of
thecontrol group students. The achievement gains of
the summer books students exceeded the achievement
gains typically seen from attending summer school classes
(Cooper et al., 2000). The difference in reading achieve-
ment scores after three summer book distributions was
almost a full school year of reading growth. We did not
require students to complete book reports or answer ques-
tions after they completed a book. We simply gave the sum-
mer books students the opportunity to self- select books
that they could then elect to read during summer vacation.
We have argued that if access to summer books were to be
extended through grade 8 and if these slightly older stu-
dents (completing grades 4– 8) and their families were as
responsive to the opportunity to self- select and read sum-
mer books, we could eliminate the rich– poor reading
achievement gap (Allington & McGill- Franzen, 2017).
These two studies (Allington et al., 2010; McGill-
Franzen et al., 2020) are the only experimental studies to
date that (a) focused on students from low- income homes,
(b) allowed students to self- select their summer books,
and (c) were multiyear studies. Kim (2007) and White,
Kim, Kingston, and Foster (2014) reported on positive
reading achievement effects for students from low- income
families, similar to our work, but students in those studies
did not self- select their summer books, and the studies
offered only a single summer with gifted books.
The two summer books research studies (Allington et
al., 2010; McGill- Franzen et al., 2020) increased the num-
ber of recent experimental studies finding positive effects
in increasing the reading proficiency of students from
low- income households by expanding the volume of
voluntary reading that these students do (Allington &
McGill- Franzen, 2018). Expanding reading volume was
done by simply gifting the self- selected books to students.
Limited access to books underlies the rich– poor reading
achievement gap, at least through grade 8, and if these
6 | Reading Research Quarterly, 0(0)
older students were as responsive to the opportunity to
self- select and read summer books as were the primary-
grade students we studied, one could expect to eliminate
the rich– poor reading achievement gap (Allington &
McGill- Franzen, 2017).
Conclusion
Reading volume (print exposure) has a positive effect on
students’ reading achievement. Once they acquire mini-
mal competence as readers, their reading volume becomes
a predictor of their gains in reading achievement. That is,
once basic reading proficiencies develop, the more exten-
sive reading activity that might follow leads to improved
reading achievement. Additional research on the relation
between reading volume and reading achievement is seri-
ously needed. Scholars will need to gather data on reading
activity during the school day and at home. Scholars will
need to indicate whether students’ reading material is
assigned or self- selected. Ericsson and colleagues’ (1993)
deliberate practice theory provides an explanation for why
extensive reading improves reading achievement, and
Lindsay’s (2018) work provided evidence of the greater
impact on reading achievement that self- selected books
(as opposed to books selected by others) can produce.
Thus, two factors are linked to growth in reading achieve-
ment: easy access to children’s books and self- selection of
summer books.
Ericsson and colleagues (1993) noted, “Many charac-
teristics once believed to reflect innate talent are actually
the result of intense practice extended for a minimum of
10 years” (p. 363). By age 15, U.S. students have had the
opportunity to be extensively engaged in reading for
roughly 10 years. Unfortunately, the evidence summa-
rized by the authors of the NEA (2004, 2007) reports indi-
cates a steady decline in the reading activity of students
over the past four decades. Perhaps the key to improving
the reading achievement of all students lies more with
working to expand their print- reading activity.
The recent studies on the question of the relation of
reading volume and reading achievement have indicated
that once early proficient reading performance has been
established, reading volume, in fact, becomes a clear com-
ponent of improving reading achievement. The studies
available differed in which language the students spoke, in
the ages of the students studied, and in whether the data
analyzed were gathered from students as they developed
reading proficiencies or were gathered from records that
underlie longer term trends. There have been studies of
young students at the beginning of their acquisition of lit-
eracy proficiencies and studies in which the students
involved had completed several years of schooling (and
several years of reading lessons) before data collection
began. Some studies have examined data drawn from only
school reading lessons, whereas other studies have ignored
school reading lessons and focused on students’ voluntary
reading beyond the school day. Finally, several studies have
evaluated access to books that students from low- income
homes have in their schools, but there have been few stud-
ies of book access during the periods when students are
not attending school. In these studies of access to books,
what seems clear is that students from low- income fami-
lies develop additional reading proficiencies during the
summers when their access to children’s books they would
like to read is improved. The data demonstrate that given
the option of supporting a summer books distribution or
supporting the more familiar option for low- achieving
students (summer school), choos ing the summer books
option is incredibly less expensive and at least as effective
for fostering improved reading achievement.
The variety of study designs and the varying analyses
in the studies reviewed here offer reciprocal evidence on
reading volume and reading achievement. Each of the
studies employed a more sophisticated analytical strategy
than were seen in earlier studies. The recent studies indi-
cated that after the first two or three years of schooling,
the volume of reading students do predicts their reading
achievement. Given the different ages of students studied,
given that the studies reviewed here included data on
reading development drawn from students in several dif-
ferent countries, and given that the data gathered were
analyzed differently in each study, it seems that the differ-
ences in the studies’ designs provide the clearest evidence,
from multiple contexts, that reading volume drives read-
ing achievement.
The voluntary reading of books has dramatically de -
clined in the last half century (NEA, 2004, 2007). Thus, the
shrinking of the amount of time students spend engaged in
literary reading activity may be the critical factor in the
stable, but not improving, reading achievement of U.S.
17- year- olds (National Center for Education Sta tistics,
2009). The status of the relation between the reading vol-
ume of students and their reading achievement would
seem to be a critical avenue for researchers to continue
exploring. However, the difficulty in gathering reliable
long- term data on students’ reading volume suggests that
gathering these extensive data will require major involve-
ment from researchers across long- term commitments.
The data currently available paint a dismal picture of read-
ing volume today. Gioia (2004), the chairman of the NEA,
wrote compellingly on this topic in the initial report by the
NEA on the status of reading activity today:
This comprehensive survey of American literary reading presents
a detailed but bleak assessment of the decline of readings role in
the nations culture. For the first time in modern history, less than
half of the adult population now reads literature, and these trends
reflect a larger decline in other sorts of reading. (p. vii)
Reading Volume and Reading Achievement: A Review of Recent Research | 7
Given the various data available, from experimental, corre-
lational, and observational research, and the general level of
agreement among these sets of data— that reading volume
generates reading achievement— we really should take stu-
dents’ volume of reading more seriously than we have.
NOTES
Funding for the two summer books studies (Allington et al., 2010;
McGill- Franzen et al., 2020) was provided by the U.S. Department of
Education for the first study and by Arnold Ventures (formerly the John
and Laura Arnold Foundation) and the Annie E. Casey Foundation for
the second study. The childrens books were provided by Scholastic for
the initial study and by the American Reading Company for the second
study. We appreciate the work done for these research projects by
employees of both companies. It was the willingness of principals,
teachers, school secretaries, and families that made these studies possi-
ble. We also thank the doctoral students who assisted us in all aspects of
this work, if only for all the trips to and from the 60 elementary schools.
Everyone deserves a big round of applause for the support provided.
1 The reading activity of U.S. students has changed since 2000. Reading
text on electronic devices has become a popular option. However, there
have been rather few experimental studies of reading, or learning to
read, reported in the research emphasis journals on the topics that have
emerged within the area of electronic texts. This review, then, is of the
recent research on learning to read with traditional printed texts.
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Submitted July 17, 2020
Final revision received March 8, 2021
Accepted March 9, 2021
RICHARD L . ALLINGTON is a professor emeritus at the
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA; email rallingt@utk.
edu. He is a past president of the International Reading
Association (now the International Literacy Association) and
also served as a member of its Board of Directors.
ANNE M. MCGILL- FRANZEN is a professor in the
Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education at the
University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA; email amcgillf@utk.
edu. She has focused her professional attention on young
readers and how to best meet the needs of all students.
... There has long been consensus in the literature of a strong correlation between reading volume and reading achievement (Allington, 2014;Allington & McGill-Franzen, 2021). NZ students who are better at reading tend to report doing more reading out of school than struggling readers (Gilmore & Smith, 2010;NMSSA, 2019). ...
... NZ students who are better at reading tend to report doing more reading out of school than struggling readers (Gilmore & Smith, 2010;NMSSA, 2019). Although correlations cannot show cause and effect, the consistency of the evidence, and the theory underlying extensive reading, means it is reasonable to believe that more extensive reading activity improves reading proficiencies (Allington & McGill-Franzen, 2021;Cunningham, 2001). As Allington & McGill-Franzen (2021, p. 231) puts it: "It seems that proficient reading, like virtually every other human proficiency, benefits through extensive engagement (or practice) with the activity." ...
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