Friday, 16 September 2011

Reading champions and reading buddies

Inexperienced and poor readers need lots of help to overcome the barriers to reading success. It’s an issue I am asked for training on time and time again. I always make sure that paired and shared reading feature in the strategies discussed. Support and encouragement from cool older role models has a huge impact. Thousands of boys up and down the country have benefited from the National Literacy Trust’s Reading Champions scheme. Lots of teenagers do amazing volunteer work to help children involved in the Summer Reading Challenge held in public libraries every year. For many years both primary and secondary schools have achieved excellent results by pairing older students with younger ones to boost motivation and provide practical reading assistance. It’s great to see this reading buddy concept reaching into the public library arena. Slough Library Service has found it a valuable tool for addressing literacy problems. Primary children (those identified by their schools as likely to benefit most) meet their secondary school buddies (chosen on the basis of enthusiasm and reliability) in the library for an hour a week over an eight week period. They read to their partners, do fun literacy-based activities and are encouraged to choose books to read at home between sessions. Training is provided for the teenagers. Children and parents report improved reading skills, more positive attitudes to reading and greater confidence. Teenagers too report an increase in confidence – a common and important finding with paired reading schemes. Additional reward comes in the shape of certificates of achievement for the children and the letters of recognition for their older partners.

CILIP members can access an interesting article about Slough Libraries’ approach on page 43 of the August edition of Update.