By Heather Nagrocki, Senior Writer/Editor, Research
Upon turning the last page of a book, I often feel a sense of accomplishment-slash-relief at having arrived at the end of the book. However, these feelings, coupled with a sense of nostalgia and loss that I have to leave characters that I have grown attached to behind, are short lived. Within moments, I am often searching for—and subsequently downloading—the next book to read.
Sometimes I know just what I’ll read next—it’s a book I’ve been eyeing up at the bookstore, have heard anecdotally is a must-read, or learn about in some other way. Sometimes I’m stumped. What book should I read next? It is those times I turn to best sellers lists and sites such as goodreads.com or amazon.com to see what catches my eye. Other times reading the first book in a series or searching for books I’ve already read will lead me down a path to discovering that next great book.
Although these resources are helpful, I still frequently seek out assurance that the book I’m about to invest my time and energy in is worth my while. Have others read this book? Did they enjoy it?
Students and educators face this dilemma every day. What book should I read next? What book will whet this student’s appetite? How can I get this student interested in that next, great book that will ignite a passion for reading?
If there was only a way to access a bona fide list of books that students are reading, really reading—not just checking out from the library or downloading on their eReaders or purchasing in print or receiving as gifts, which they may or may not ever crack open—but reading, from cover to cover.
The good news is such a list exists! Available today is the newest edition of Renaissance’s annual national reading report, What Kids Are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools, 2014. If you are just about to launch a search for that next great book, we’ve done some homework for you. What Kids Are Reading compiles lists of books kids in grades 1-12 are reading, really reading. How do we know? The report is based on the Renaissance Accelerated Reader® database—the largest of its kind—which houses reading records for nearly 10 million kids from more than 31,000 U.S. schools who read over 318 million books during last school year (2012–2013). Ten million kids. 318 million books. Now that’s assurance. That is a solid place to start the hunt.
In addition to revealing top book lists, this year’s What Kids Are Reading features popular authors Mitch Albom, Joanna Cole, and Cynthia Rylant, who share their reflections on reading as well as essays from individuals at five leading eReading platforms about the new way students get lost in a book. And with the increased emphasis on information/nonfiction reading in new education standards, we share top nonfiction reading lists and examine the trajectory of reading for the college-and career-readiness exemplars.
It’s nearly impossible to become a good reader without reading—a lot. Research has shown again and again that extensive practice at the right level of challenge is essential for developing any skill. Reading is no exception. As Dr. Seuss said,
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss, 1978, I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!
How do you find that next, great book for you or your students to read? Let us know in the comments!
Heather Nagrocki works as senior writer and editor for the Research team where she oversees all external publications for the department. She collaborates with educators on case studies highlighting school and district success with Renaissance solutions as well as shepherds the development of key annual reports including What Kids Are Reading.