The Long-Term Effects Of Skipping Your Reading Homework

Not every student loves reading, there’s no argument on that.  We’ve talked about a lot of resources or learning to read and making reading fun and easy for students, but we haven’t really talked about where that reading fits in to the larger picture of a students’ education.

Though the information in the infographic below isn’t very new (the reference notes 1987), the numbers still hold true. A student who reads 20 minutes per day will read 1,800,000 words by the end of the sixth grade, compared with a student who reads one minute per day, who will read only 8,000 words. The student who reads one minute per day will only read .004% of what the 20 minute reader will read. Think about how much more information the 20 minute reader will have absorbed over time!

I think this lesson is important for adults, too. When you’re not in school anymore and have ‘real life’ responsibilities like working and taking care of a house, spouse, and children, things like reading can fall by the wayside. Even if you’re reading for a short while before bed, think of all that you could learn and absorb in that short time! Even if you’re reading romance novels instead of Classic Literature – that’s ok! Reading is reading! Get lost in a great book, and you’ll remember why you’re encouraging your students and kids to do the same!

(Thanks to the Perry Lecompton School District in Perry, KS, for the infographic!)





  1. Kenneth Goldberg, Ph.D.

    January 2, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Twenty minutes of “reading” and twenty minutes of “homework” should not be confused as synonymous. When we ask a kid to read for twenty minutes, we usually mean what we say, twenty minutes, whether that child is a fast reader or a slow reader. When we ask a kid to do a twenty minute assignment, we usually mean to complete an assignment, estimated to take twenty minutes, but to get it done. For that child to get a good or good-enough grade, he may need to spend more than twenty minutes. That, in a nutshell, is the major problem with homework. It punishes children with slow processing speed and sets them up for failure in the future.

  2. sandralin

    January 2, 2013 at 10:37 am

    ” That, in a nutshell, is the major problem with homework. It punishes children with slow processing speed and sets them up for failure in the future.” K.G.

    I believe this is where parents come in and help the children who find homework difficult. NOT struggling with homework alone helps children to be more determined, goal-oriented and it also teaches them how to tackle difficulties. Children who don’t practise their intelectual skills will probably play sports or computer games and because of the time they devote to these activities, children become good at them. We like/prefer what we find easy to do, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do things we don’t fancy. Tackling problems and findind a solution can be very rewarding. Just a thought. Very happy new year!!

    • Ryan

      January 9, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Are you suggesting that computer games (or sports) are not intellectually engaging?

    • Jon

      January 12, 2013 at 12:49 am

      This is all fine and dandy as long as the homework isn’t just busy work. A lot of learning can happen from creative play (collaboration, communication, ingenuity, etc) and not much of this happens in schools due to all high stakes testing.

  3. Barbara P

    January 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Thank you, Dr. Goldberg. As a Mom of one of those “slow processors” who also has a high IQ, I completely agree. Some more knowledgeable teachers have shortened his assignments or allowed more time for completion, which has helped.

  4. Bev

    January 12, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    The point of this article is to demonstrate that children should read at the very least of 20 minutes per night. As a second grade teacher, I encourage all of my students to read. No one reads at the same rate, so it’s not about comparing students, but ensuring that the child does the reading. The only way to improve in anything is to practice. Many parents want their students to excel in school, but don’t encourage the good habits. I do not give much “homework” per se, so I think that the title was misleading. I believe that the writer meant reading was required rather than voluntary.

  5. musingmiller

    January 14, 2013 at 2:08 am

    This infographic is from 1987! Is there one out there with more updated statistics (not sure where these came from in the first place?)?