Games motivate students to read beyond their grade level

Kids spend a lot of time playing video games, and it’s paying off for their education.

Hannah Gerber, a literacy researcher at Sam Houston State University, observed 10th grade students and found while they only read about 10 minutes a day in English class—they spent 70 minutes reading at home. They’re not devouring novels but instead websites and guides devoted to their favorite video games, like Minecraft or World of Warcraft.

Many of these sites are written at grades 8-11 or higher on the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease scale, with 2-6 percent “academic” jargon.

“It’s situated knowledge,” Constance Steinkuehler, a games researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told Wired. “They see a piece of language, a turn of phrase, and they figure it out.”

Steinkuehler asked middle and high school students who struggled with reading to examine texts (some containing language on a college level) from sites about their favorite games. They read them with no help and high accuracy.

Alfonso Gonzalez, a middle school teacher from Washington, told Classcraft this year in an interview, “The Lexile level of some of the wikis that people have created are actually really high. So kids have to have pretty decent reading skills to advance in [World of Warcraft]. Because when they get stuck, I tell them look it up.”

This motivation is carrying over to writing as well, with kids contributing to game sites and discussions online.

“They have an audience that knows their stuff, and they expect you to be knowledgeable,” Steinkuehler said.

Photo credit: Uber Images /
Stephanie Carmichael Stephanie is the editor-in-chief of the Classcraft Blog and the Head of Content for Classcraft ( She's a proud advocate of games for social good and loves talking with teachers about their amazing experiences in the classroom. Email her at [email protected]
+ Leave a comment + 0 Reply

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.
game-based learning, literacy, Minecraft, reading, video games, World of Warcraft, writing
Make Learning an Adventure, Gamify your classroom today! Start Now, It's Free!
Features 0
Features 0

5 best VR video lessons to engage your students in the classroom

By on
Digital media is a powerful tool in the 21st-century classroom, and for many teachers, virtual reality is the latest tech to make the list. Here are five of the best 360-degree VR video lessons from Discovery Educator Network that you can use in your classroom today. You can access each of these diverse and engaging experiences through a VR headset if you have one — but for the budget-conscious, you can
News 0
News 0

Try our free VR lesson plan powered by the Discovery Educator Network

By on
Classcraft and the Discovery Educator Network are giving back this Teacher Appreciation Week. Starting May 6, teachers everywhere can access exciting 360-degree VR video experiences through engaging “choose-your-own-adventure” lesson plans for students. Classcraft’s Discovery Educator Network Quest provides all the learning activities you need to jump in right away. Students explore 360-degree video experiences, from swimming with s
Features 1
Features 1

March’s Quest of the Month: Teacher Steve Isaacs’ game design lesson plan

By on
Introducing Classcraft's first-ever Quest of the Month! Each month at Classcraft, we'll be choosing one awesome quest to promote. Quests are personalized, self-paced, choose-your-own-adventure lessons for students. Our goal is to spotlight the amazing educators who inspire us and share creative, teacher-made content with our global community of forward-thinking educators. If you use Classcraft, you can submit quests you'
Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter
An error as occured, please try again later
Latest game review, teaching tips and more!