Writing is one of the best ways to teach reading…

My friend and colleague Doug Kaufman recently turned to me and said that ‘You know, writing might be one of the best ways to teach reading’. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I think he’s right. Who better to deeply understand and appreciate a chef’s cooking than a fellow chef?

What is it writers do when they read?

  • Because writers know that to craft texts is to share meaning, they know to look out for potential meanings being shared with them by the author.
  • Because writers know the powerful reasons they are moved to write, they can speculate and understand the reasons why the author of the text they read may have been moved too. 
  • Because writers hear the personal responses people have to their work, they know that they can share responses to their reading.
  • Because writers use things they’ve read, seen and experienced to help craft texts, they know that what they are reading will have drawn on these things too and they can make connections.
  • Because writers craft writing in response to what’s going on in the world, they can better understand that the texts they read might be in response to these life events too. 
  • Because writers use techniques to keep their readers guessing, they are better able to make logical, plausible or inventive suggestions as to what could happen in the book they are reading. 
  • Because writers are asked questions about their texts, they understand that they can ask questions of the texts they read. 
  • Because writers are asked to clarify what it is they are meaning to say, they understand that they can ask for clarification as readers. 
  • Because writers have to summarise, and because they hear their peers and others summarise their work, they can summarise the writing of others too.
  • Because writers are continually thinking about and discussing their compositions with others, they understand that they can ‘think aloud’ in response to the texts they are reading. 
  • Because writers use literary techniques to help people visualise their ideas, they are able to visualise what they have read.
  • Because writers understand that manuscripts are artefacts and ‘gifts’ that they craft to be shared and responded to by others, they understand that they can write in response to the rich artefacts and ‘gifts’ shared with them.
  • Encoding text means practising phonics for reading.

Further reading

  • Ahmed, Y., Kent, S. C., & Keller-Margulis, M. (2023). Reading-to-Writing Mediation model of higher-order literacy. Frontiers in Psychology14.
  • Fitzgerald, J., & Shanahan, T. (2000). Reading and writing relations and their development. Educational Psychologist, 35, 39–50.
  • Graham S. (2020a) Reading and Writing Connections: A Commentary. In: Alves R., Limpo T., Joshi R. (eds) Reading-Writing Connections. Literacy Studies (Perspectives from Cognitive Neurosciences, Linguistics, Psychology and Education), vol 19. Springer, Cham.
  • Graham, S. (2020b). The Sciences of Reading and Writing Must Become More Fully Integrated. Reading Research Quarterly, 55(S1), S35– S44.
  • Graham, S., & Hebert, M. (2011). Writing-to-read: A meta-analysis of the impact of writing and writing instruction on reading. Harvard Educational Review, 81, 710–744.
  • Graham, S., Liu, K., Aitken, A., Ng, C., Bartlett, B., Harris, K. R., & Holzapel, J. (2018a). Balancing reading and writing instruction: A meta-analysis. Reading Research Quarterly, 53, 279–304.
  • Graham, S., Liu, K., Bartlett, B., Ng, C., Harris, K. R., Aitken, A., Barkel, A., Kavanaugh, C., & Talukdar, J. (2018b). Reading for writing: A meta-analysis of the impact of reading and reading instruction on writing. Review of Educational Research, 88, 243–284.
  • Graham, S., Kiuhara, S., and MacKay, M. (2020). The effects of writing on learning in science, social studies, and mathematics: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 90(2), 179–226
  • Kim, Y.-S. G., Wolters, A., & Lee, J. won. (2023). Reading and Writing Relations Are Not Uniform: They Differ by the Linguistic Grain Size, Developmental Phase, and Measurement, Review of Educational Research, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543231178830
  • Mayer, K.. (2007). Emerging knowledge about emergent writing YC Young Children 62 pp.34-40
  • Proctor, P., Daley, S., Xu, Y., Graham, S., Li, Z., Hall, T. (2020) Shared Knowledge between Reading and Writing among Middle School Adolescent Readers The Elementary School Journal 120:3, 507-527
  • Quinn, M. F., & Traga Philippakos, Z. A. Building a Bridge: Writing and Reading Connections in Early Childhood. The Reading Teacher.

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