As a high school English teacher, I was questioned repeatedly by my principal on my use of both sustained silent reading IN CLASS as well as reading texts aloud to my class.
I too am an advocate of both, at all ages.
SSR: I share identical sentiments of @susan3smith. If kids can find something to enjoy reading and are provided an opportunity to do it, the benefits are endless. The biggest problem I've run into is that students really do not have TIME outside of class to just sit and read. I gave 45 minutes of silent reading in ALL my classes every Friday and have never regretted nor doubted that it was one of the best things my students did.
Reading-aloud: different methods of doing this, my preferred is to have the teacher read aloud as the class follows in their own books. There are several benefits listening to a story while reading it, including utilizing auditory and visual learning simultaneously and demonstration of thinking-aloud (pose questions or provide explanations while reading). Most students agree that their understanding is enhanced when I read the story to and with them. Outside of reading plays in parts, I rarely have one student read for the entire class. Sometimes I'll do "paired reading" or "reciprocal reading" which is done in groups of 3 or 4 with guiding questions to read to find the answer, stop, and answer together.
Again, I use both methods at the high school level frequently and found them to be just as practical and effective as they are reported to be at the elementary school level. The fact is, our technological society has nearly eliminated reading novels as a hobby. I'm willing to accept that and simply work with it by providing TIME in my classroom to get back to basics.
I have been teaching for quite some time, so my answer may be considered Old School, so I hope that my response is useful and relevant to you. I have used both methods in teaching English throughout the years. I was a huge advocate of silent sustained reading. I used it with all grade levels of high school students, mostly on-level or below in ability. With silent sustained reading students chose their own reading material. I had a huge class library, and if a student did not have his or her own reading materials, I would select something for him or her to read. My philosophy was and is that if I could connect even the most unwilling reader with the right book, I could forever change attitudes about reading. I had much success with this method. And, I had various ways of holding students accountable for their reading. Another topic for another question.
But you see I used past tense. I teach primarily high level students now--AP and IB, and the curriculum for those students is more established. Nevertheless, throughout my entire career and even now, we read aloud. How can you teach Shakespeare without reading aloud? When we do close text analysis, especially as a group, we read aloud a scene or a passage. I do the same with poetry. This approach is especially needed when the material is difficult or students need to hear the beauty of the sounds of the words in order to appreciate the material fully.
So, the first method seems to work more as a motivational device; the second more as an instructional--content based class. All age groups should be exposed to each.
I too am an advocate of both. However, I teach at a vocational high school where two weeks of academics correlate to four weeks at a regular high school. The majority of teachers read aloud, or have the students listen to the short stories on an i-pod. Both vocational schools and regular high schools are responsible for the same state testing!
There is now a push to have the students read stories silently because of state testing...fine if the kids had any idea about silent reading strategies or the motivation to become an "active reader."
Does anyone have any input on the most important strategies to teach about silent reading? There is so much information and what about having all readers(at all different levels) reading a literature text that is very difficult for half the students. thanks