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Sustained Silent Reading in Laos

Lao children reading in schoolWhen our team goes to a primary school, we hold a book party to get children excited about reading. At the end, we leave a set of books in every classroom, so teachers can set aside a reading time each day.

In English, this is typically called "Sustained Silent Reading" (SSR) or "Free Voluntary Reading" (FVR) or Sustained Quiet Un-Interrupted Reading Time (SQUIRT). Such programs are already popular in many western countries; in Asia, they've been successful in South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand, among others.

However, we haven't found any reports of Sustained Silent Reading in countries such as Laos. One reason is that the countries where reading skills are poorest often don't have enough books that children are eager to read. Then the whole thing fizzles. It's taken us seven years to reach the point where we can do this.

How it works

Techniques for Sustained Silent Reading have evolved through use in many countries. Here are some basic principles:

* Students can choose what to read. In western countries, students are asked to bring a book from home or from the library. Here, they rarely have any books at home so they'll select from books in the classroom.

* The teacher is encouraged to spend the time reading, too. That shows that reading is important.

* Students are not required to answer questions or report about what they read. The goal is to make reading fun and stress-free. The teacher can allow students to talk about their book, if they wish and if time allows.

Reading is fun. It's educational. It provides a way to continue one's education later in life. Information from books can lead to better health, better farming techniques, and better jobs. This reading program will greatly increase the amount of reading for enjoyment that each students does each day, leading to a lifetime habit of reading.

Right now, we have enough different books to keep kids reading every day for a year. But that's because we have a lot of overlap: We'll provide many of the same titles to both grades 3 and 4, for example. To keep this going beyond the first year, we need more books. Will you help, by selecting a book to sponsor? Thank you!