Can reading alone result in excellent writing skills? There are indeed many benefits in reading widely; a repertoire of vocabulary and the observation of writing styles of the authors as well as better cognitive development are just some of the benefits. And children should start reading from a young age. Even toddlers can reap numerous benefits from having books read to them.
However, to argue that reading widely alone will definitely result in excellent writing skills is questionable. Writing skills need to be taught. Different genres have different purposes and audiences, thereby calling for different text structures. At Test Champs – WA (previously known as Scholastic Excellence), we focus on a different writing genre each term for four weeks before moving on to reading comprehension for the rest of the term. Spelling and language conventions are part of the program every week with an end of the term test on week 9 based on the lessons taught in the term.
A focus on a different writing genre allows students to hone their writing skills for a particular genre. We teach writing by introducing the structure, brainstorming ideas and having students model after sample papers previously done by students their grade. Students are then asked to practise their writing with similar topics of the same genre. And we always emphasise editing skills. Essays are then marked and returned with the occasional need for students to re-write the essay when necessary. Of course, we also find that students who read widely have an advantage and we do encourage wide reading of a variety of genres.