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SSR: When and Why Middle Schoolers Read

Toby L., Staff Writer

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Silent Sustained Reading, or SSR, is self-explanatory: it is a period of silent, sustained, reading that many teachers give their students during class.

According to Pearson UK, children who read for enjoyment every day not only perform better in reading tests than those who don’t, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures.

Before this year, SSR time was given during advisement time for all students in the middle school. In eighth grade, English classes have about 15 minutes at the start of each period for SSR. During this time, students can only read the non-school-related book of their choosing.

This change occurred after much thought. “It wasn’t a class, and it was during advisement. Students were not taking it seriously, and advisors didn’t know how to handle it; kids were just using it as a study hall. SSR during advisement just wasn’t working well,” said Heather Karvis, an eighth grade English teacher and Dean of Students.

In fact, in the eighth grade classes, teachers require their students to staple a picture of their book on the wall, and the students are asked to bring that same book every day, receiving credit for doing so in their work habits grade.

“SSR is something new in eighth grade. Ms. Zidow tried in with seventh grade, and we all really liked it,” said Mrs. Karvis.

Some students do not like having to read at the start of every day. “I don’t remember what I’m reading. I don’t get why SSR is a thing,” said Miles C., an eighth grade boy.

However, other students love SSR. Sophie A., an eighth grade girl, said, “I like SSR because it provides a break from the struggles of school.”

Lucas R., an eighth grader, takes Writing Bootcamp, a class for writing where SSR is a part of everyday class as well.

“I really like it in both English and Writing Bootcamp because it gives me more time to actually read, and I enjoy reading, but it seems like I never have time,” he said. “I think other people like it because whenever SSR is over, people are disappointed like they want to keep reading.”

“I think my students enjoy a silent 10 minutes of class whether that is because they like reading or because they like taking a 10-minute break from class,” said Mrs. Karvis.

According to an article by Charlotte Alter in Time magazine, Common Sense Media, reported that in 1984, 8 percent of 13-year-olds and 9 percent of 17-year-olds said they “never” or “hardly ever” read for pleasure. In 2014, that number had almost tripled, to 22 percent and 27 percent. Girls also tend to read more than boys, as 18 percent of boys say they read daily, while 30 percent of girls do.

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SSR: When and Why Middle Schoolers Read