The Reading and Writing Connection
By Amy Sexton, Kaplan University Writing Center
Students often want to know how they can become better writers. While there are many possible answers to this question, perhaps the easiest way anyone can become a better writer is to read recreationally. Recreational, or leisure, reading means reading solely for pleasure, not for work or a class, but for the sheer enjoyment of it. As the folks with the National Writing Project (2013) note, “Better writers tend to be better readers, and better readers produce better writing” (para. 1) When we read, we learn. We notice how authors craft their sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. We take note of the choices writers make, including decisions about genre, plot lines, symbolism, and character development. We learn new words, words that we can then utilize in our own writing to make it more effective and dynamic. We learn what makes good writing, and we apply that knowledge to our writing. The best part is, that when we enjoy what we read, reading is a lot of fun! Recreational reading provides a retreat from the daily grind of life’s responsibilities, allowing us to escape for hours into fictional worlds like the post-apocalyptic Panem (The Hunger Games) or historical places like the attic where Anne Frank and her family hid out during the Nazi occupation of Holland (Diary of Anne Frank). Many teachers and tutors are avid recreational readers. We can help our students become better writers by sharing our love for reading with them and telling them about the reading/writing connection. We can talk with them about what we are reading and inspire them to read the same books we have enjoyed. We can help them become empowered writers simply by encouraging them to read!
What are some of the must-read titles you can share with your students? (For titles that KUWC and WAC team members have suggested in past years, be sure to check out these summer reading lists: Summer Reading List 2011, Summer Reading List 2012, Summer Reading List 2013)
National Writing Project. (2013). Writing and reading. Retrieved from http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/doc/resources/write_read.csp
That is wonderful, llaovell! I also read with my children regularly when they were young, and they are now avid readers. Reading is indeed addictive!
Amy, when my son was around 10, bedtime was still reading time and together we read “The Hobbit”. Now he is such a J.R.R. Tolkien fan I can’t stop him. Yes, reading is truly addictive!
Hi David, Thank you! I also have many students who like Stephen King. I always love it when students tell me about what they are reading. I think that sharing our love for reading with students and hearing about what they are reading helps us to make more connections with them, which is a very good thing, especially in an online learning environment.
Amy, what a great post and it’s so true that we should encourage reading for “fun” as a way to improve writing skills. For some reason, I always seem to have a lot of students who enjoy Stephen King novels! We sometimes talk about reading as writers by looking for some of the craft you mentioned here such as sentences and paragraphs, plus the way that writers “hook” their readers. Thank you for sharing that 🙂