Voluntary in School Free Reading Programs Elementary Level Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

grain of sand, hold infinity in an hour, - lines I read in a book of poetry, lines that play at the back of my mind as I begin to lay the outlines if this thesis for a Master's degree.

I see the wonder in a child's eyes as he imagines a world unfolding in a grain of sand as I read a story to him; an hour reading in a class of children translates into infinity as the children in that class become readers themselves, changing the hours into infinity as they develop the habit of infinite reading.

Voluntary in-school free reading program - elementary level" is the subject of this thesis proposal, and the objective is to prove that voluntary in-school free reading programs result in positive effects on elementary students' attitudes toward reading.

Statement of the Problem

General Objective

To be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a voluntary in-school free reading program (Elementary level)

Specific Objectives to establish the parameters of a voluntary in-school free reading program to explore how an in-school free reading program's structure, methodology, strategies and resources influence the children's attitudes toward reading to get an insight into how the development of children's love for reading is directly related to reading fluency and comprehension to explore the possibility of conducting a formal voluntary in-school free reading program at the elementary school level to find out what studies have been performed by experts to measure results of students attitudes where in-school free reading programs have been implemented.

Conceptual Framework

One of the most rewarding programs for children is what has been labeled voluntary In-house Free Reading Programs. Rewarding because efforts to open up a wonderful world of words for children result in untold positive effects on children's reading attitudes. One acquires self-fulfillment in hearing children first form orally words out of a set of letters from a book or reading material. The happiness mirrored on the faces of children as they grow from words to phrases to sentences to paragraphs to whole stories or from nursery rhymes to complete poems is happiness enough.

Reading as an integral part of the child's development impacts on his personal and social development as well as on his mental growth. The child-development theory of reading has been presented in varied ways by Burton, Olson, and Russell. [Strang, McCullough and Traxler, New York, McGRaw Hill, p. 9].

This theory shows how various aspects of the child's development: his physical growth, language development, general mental development and social development are related to and contribute to his development in reading. It in turn induces growth in the other areas. These relationships may be explained schematically as follows:

Skills for advanced learning

Language Happiness, enjoyment

Child Physical Reading development Mental development Understanding himself,

Social others, his world

Social and emotional adjustment

Strang, et.al., p. 9)

Olson says that "reading is a part of a more or less predetermined pattern of growth which will emerge under favorable conditions." A condition may occur in the child's development during which there is a sudden temporary spurt of improvement after reading lessons and activities have been administered but after which he reverts to his old inability to read functionally and effectively. When certain factors at home or in school interfering with the child's development are removed and he is provided with instruction, practice and help neglected in his younger years, it is possible that permanent growth in line with his true developmental trend may ensue.

Strang, et. al pp. 9-10).

Consider the pyramid of growth shown below. The pyramid reinforces the concept of the interrelatedness of a child's reading development and his physical, mental, emotional and behavioral growth. (Strang, et. al p. 143)


Critical thinking.

Understanding of relationships.

Evaluation of materials.

Skill in drawing conclusions.

Permanent interest in reading.

Broadened appreciation of good literature.

Skill in locating and using books and reference materials.

Ability to do purposeful oral reading.

Greater rate and skill in silent reading to serve varied purposes.

Ability to select, evaluate, and organized study type materials.

Growth in enjoyment of printed materials.

Introduction to the work-type skills.

Growing independence in work recognition.

Ability to read silently more rapidly than orally.

Growth in ability to read orally with fluency and ease.

Desire to read good literature for recreatory purposes.

Beginning recognition of the printed symbols.

Attachment of meaning to printed sentences.

Purposeful reading to satisfy actual group and individual needs.

Keen interest in books and strong desire to read.

Development of visual and auditory discrimination, speech, motor control, language

Facility, organization of ideas, left-to-right progression, and listening.

Adjustment to the school situation. Health and happy living. Wide, varied, purposeful experiences, directed toward building vocabulary. Ability to work and play in groups.

Source: Curriculum Bulletin No. 12, State Department of Education, Augusta, Maine).

Definition of Terms

Free Voluntary Reading (FVR) as conceptualized by Krashen heavily targets users of English as a second language in the hope that the program will result in higher student achievement. Efforts are directed towards improved teaching methods and strategies. FVR is the result of the collaborative effort of highly successful teachers, coaches and mentors who believed that the single most important factor associated with reading achievement is independent reading. Writing ability and style, spelling and grammar improve with increased free voluntary reading. Studies point to the fact that students who have joined FVR programs did as well, if not better on comprehension tests as students who were given the traditional, skill-based reading lessons.

In the FVR program, the amount of leisure reading and reading achievement are correlated. Program endorses strongly believe that reading promotes reading - the more the children read the more their vocabulary grows, the more words they read, the more words they can read, and the more reading they can do. Krashen 1993, opines that listening to stories read aloud promotes independent reading. In the same manner, light reading (comics, romance books) positively correlates with achievement. Reading activities such as teacher read-aloud, freedom of choice of reading materials and owning books were motivational.

FVR is a way to achieve advanced second language proficiency. Reading books from one series, or of one type not only makes the reader stay with material he finds interesting but also allows the reader to take advantage of background information to make tests more comprehensible (Cleo and Krashen, 1994).

Sustained Silent Literacy (SSL) is about a fifteen to twenty minute span of time during language arts where the students participate in reading, writing, listening, communicating, and thinking activities.

Research shows that free reading and literacy program promotes the development of writing and of reading comprehension.

Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) as differentiated from SSL is a system in which students read for a limited (10-15) minutes on self-selected material. No changing of reading materials is allowed during this time. Teacher acts as a model doing voluntary reading at the same time. No reports nor records are required.

On the other hand, Modified Silent Sustained Reading allows students to self-select their reading material and read for a designated time period each day. (Routman 1991). When the child has finished the book, the student has a peer conference (with specific questions) and completes a project to share with the class. The teacher also confers with the student. The student uses a WEB recording sheet to log the process.

Reading Workshop is a very structured approach (Artwell, 1987, Reif, 1992) to free voluntary reading based on three principles: time, ownership and response. Students are given time everyday for silent, independent reading. Unlike USSR, it is not limited to 10-15 minute block of time. Reading workshop sets a minimum of 30 minutes. Students may choose titles. In this way students make a connection between reading and writing through the use of dialogue journals (Artwell, 1987, Reif, 1992).

Review of Related Literature

Voluntary in-school free reading programs" is anoffshoot of a host of reading programs, born of a need to address the needs of students who cannot read efficiently and functionally. Why can't they read efficiently? There are a host of reasons too - maybe the problem is physical or medical-based; vision is weak, listening skills are poor. Maybe the child is emotionally or psychologically afflicted - he/she thinks reading is only for the intelligent and he/she is mentally disadvantaged. It could be culture-or language-based Mexicans, Cubans, Negros have language difficulties. There is a corresponding reason behind a reading difficulty, this has to be addressed before a child can learn to read.

Different schools and communities have tried different reading programs - some subsidized by the school or community, some by the federal government. Out of the gaggle of programs has emerged what is termed voluntary in-school free reading programs. These are voluntary: students comet to the classrooms without coercion, only encouragement. These are free lessons are unstructured - only teaching strategies are. These are in-school. Programs belong to a particular school, catering to the specific needs of a particular studentry. There is no…

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