As one of the study authors stated: "it's not only what we read – but thinking rigorously about it that's of value, and that literary study provides a truly valuable exercise of people's brains." In an era when the focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects are given (in my opinion) an outsized importance, it's good to see research that emphasizes the importance of reading. What makes this study so interesting is how it highlights the benefits of rigorous reading. This is important to keep in mind when our children and students complain about the difficulty of a book. Difficult reading becomes easier over time and this science shows why. So, encourage your students to press on in their reading of tougher titles. It's a discipline that will pay off in the long run. Of course, if your student is getting discouraged and wanting to quit reading entirely, peddle back and choose books that she enjoys to balance out the more difficult titles.
On a personal note, I remember being 11 or 12 years old and my mom assigning me Ivanhoe. This was the original. It's a tough read, especially for a youngster. And before the first chapter was over, I was in tears. It was ridiculously detailed (in my young expert opinion, ha!), the author used far too many fancy and long words and there was nothing enjoyable about spending 45 minutes reading
To read more about the study, click here. And if you've experienced something like this, share below. Or if you have advice for encouraging young readers to tackle more difficult writing, chime in!