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Sustained Silent Reading in Laos

Lao children reading in schoolWe use many approaches to get children reading. Teaching the alphabet, while important, is easily over-done. We place a greater focus on motivating children to want to read. We often read aloud to children too young to read on their own. Then they know there's something good inside those books.

Another technique is called "Sustained Silent Reading" (SSR) or "Free Voluntary Reading" (FVR). Such programs are already popular in many western countries; in Asia, they've been successful in South Korea, Singapore, and Thailand, among others. However, until we started, we had not found any reports of Sustained Silent Reading in countries such as Laos. One reason is that reading skills are just too weak for it to work. Another reason is that many countries don't have enough books that children are eager to read.Then the whole thing fizzles. It took us seven years to publish enough books to start this program.

How it works

Sustained Silent Reading has 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. We let them do that, or select from books from a wide assortment in the classroom.

* 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 program greatly increases the amount of reading for enjoyment that each students does each day, leading to a lifetime habit of reading.

One reason people in Laos don't become avid readers is that they leave school with such weak reading skills that it's too much work. Another reason is that there still is not enough in the Lao language to read. You can help! We invite you to sponsor a book. Thank you!