Category archives: children’s and young people’s reading

Monday, 13 November 2017

Reading for information – inspiring quotes for National Non-Fiction November on fostering children’s curiosity

NFI’m delighted that one of the courses I’m giving this week is on reading for information, perfect in National Non-Fiction November. These are some of the great books we’ll be looking at, all brilliant for developing curiosity.

I love all the quotes here. They demonstrate the value and importance of nurturing enquiring minds, and give some useful pointers into how to do it – not least harnessing the power of libraries and librarians.

  • ‘I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.’ Eleanor Roosevelt
  • ‘Curiosity is the engine of achievement.’ Ken Robinson
  • ‘The most reliable predictor of achievement is a hungry mind.’ Sophie von Stumm
  • ‘The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited.’ Plutarch
  • ‘Reading for information is about thinking, wondering, and sometimes understanding, with the ever-present possibility of being unsettled.’ Margaret Meek
  • ‘If we are to motivate children to go through the research process, then we must ensure that their curiosity is stimulated, by exposing them to new information or ideas that cause them to want to know more.’ Jeni Riley and David Reedy
  • ‘It is not the answer that enlightens but the question.’ Eugène Ionescu
  • ‘The essential move in learning is to transform information to understanding.’ Margaret Meek
  • ‘Libraries offer the arsenal in the war of understanding.’ Mal Peet
  • ‘Librarians open up the world. Knowledge is useless if you don’t even know where to begin to look. How much more can you discover when someone can point you in the right direction, when someone can maybe even give you a treasure map, to places you may not have even thought you were allowed to go? This is what librarians do.’ Patrick Ness
  • ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.’ Dr Seuss

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Reading dogs

Fifteen or more years ago my late brother-in-law, an inspirational primary school headteacher and adviser, told me about the amazing impact his dog was having on pupils’ reading. Children who struggled with reading, and for whom reading aloud was a humiliating ordeal, happily read to Buddy. Nick saw their confidence, behaviour and skills surge. The key, of course, was that Buddy was friendly and cuddly and non-judgemental (also deaf, though the children didn’t know that).

reading dog - Townhill Community School & Swansea Library ServiceIn those days the concept of a reading dog was pretty revolutionary. Happily that has changed. The value of reading dogs is now widely attested. I was reminded of Nick and Buddy when Carole Billingham, Swansea Children and Youth Librarian, shared this great picture at a course of mine on special educational needs that she attended. Her dog Stella lives up to her starry name when she helps struggling readers in the library and local schools. I loved hearing about Stella’s transformative effect on children’s language and literacy skills, and on their motivation and well-being. The children here are from Townhill Community School.

Please, Sir – sit! The tale of a learning support dog’ quotes research that children who read to listening dogs show an increase in reading levels, word recognition, a higher desire to read and write, and an increase in intra and interpersonal skills.

In ‘How these adorable dogs are helping children love reading’ Jaki Brien, a volunteer for Therapy Dogs, describes what happens in reading sessions with her dog, and how and why they change children’s attitudes and aptitudes.

‘Children urged to read to dogs, perfect listeners’ highlights the therapeutic as well as literacy benefits of reading dogs. ‘Meet the dogs who help children learn to read’ reports children’s emotional intelligence growing alongside their vocabulary.

Wonderful!

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Children’s and young people’s reading – latest news and articles

Wilstead booksSome of the wonderful books we explored on an inset I gave on Monday on reading for pleasure. (Perfect topic for the start of the academic year.)

Lots of news and articles about children’s reading came out over the summer. Do hope this round-up is useful.

An American study shows that the benefits of reading to babies last for years.

New research shows the importance of oral vocabulary for reading: children find it easier to read words they have heard before, even if they’ve never seen them written down.

I was very interested to read Kate Nation’s views on the necessity for good comprehension strategies to complement phonics teaching in early years.

Primary teachers, do also look at this helpful, nuanced review of the relative merits of whole class reading teaching and guided reading. (My last news round-up has links to a couple of other valuable articles on this topic.)

Lots of good ideas in ‘Six steps to create a reading culture in your school’. Great to see school libraries and librarians (appropriately) valued.

‘What works for getting kids to enjoy reading’ has some interesting data and ideas, particularly about rewards for reading and easy access to books.

This useful blog on reading interventions argues that all interventions must be appropriate to the individual, for instance that a phonics-based approach will not help a successful decoder who struggles with comprehension.

Finally, an intriguing discovery: only human protagonists in children’s books impact on children’s social behaviour, not animal ones.

 

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

A round-up of recent news and articles about children’s and young people’s reading

manchester girl readingI’ve always loved the Reading Girl statue by Giovanni Ciniselli in Manchester Central Library. The perfect illustration for my latest haul of children’s reading news.

The National Literacy Trust’s important annual literacy survey has just been published. Great to see that rates of reading for pleasure continue to rise. Sadly, though, 40% of 8-18 year-olds enjoy reading little or not at all, with significantly more boys than girls in this camp, far more secondary age students than key stage 2 pupils, and more pupils from white ethnic backgrounds than other ethnic backgrounds. Pupils who enjoy reading were found, not surprisingly, to spend more time reading, to read more widely, to have higher reading scores and better comprehension.

Reading with children starting in infancy gives lasting literacy boost. Shared book-reading that begins soon after birth may translate into higher language and vocabulary skills before elementary school, according to US research.

Children’s reading improves if parents have positive views about their potential and are given ways to support reading effectively at home. A new survey shows big benefits to funding parental support for reading, especially for boys.

There are lots of excellent tips for raising a reader from the New York Times.

Do listen to Dr Vivienne Smith talking about why reading is important, not least for empathy and mental health.

Author and former teacher Jo Cotterill has great ideas for developing reading for pleasure. I also recommend this Scottish Book Trust blog on the subject.

A tweet by year 5 teacher Lauren Butterworth demonstrates how important it is to model reading behaviour: ‘The biggest influence on reading for pleasure in my class has been me reading – the kids love asking me questions.’

‘The essential components of a KS2 reading scheme’ is full of valuable pointers. The final essential on the list? A teacher who loves reading.

One of my greatest joys at primary school was when teachers read to us, and I loved it especially when it happened outside. A recent article explores the value of taking reading lessons into the open air.

Many primary schools are moving away from the carousel guided reading model. For teachers looking for guidance on this ‘How I teach whole class reading’ is useful, as is ‘ How to switch to whole class guided reading’.

Boys’ reading attainment is frequently addressed. A recent article suggests that girls’ reading problems often fall beneath the radar.

An anonymous English teacher ponders on the implications of the lack of reading by English teachers. It’s well worth reading the comments too, and this response from another English teacher.

New research demonstrates that children’s learning and comprehension do not differ between printed and digital books. Comprehension is dependent on content, not medium.

‘Inappropriate content’ is a useful discussion between an author and a bookseller about why age banding children’s books is unhelpful.

Last but definitely not least, an inspiring animation from We Love Reading.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Entrepreneurs Tackling Illiteracy – Project Literacy Lab

project literacyThis is the august Royal Institution, venue for last week’s exciting Project Literacy Lab event, which I felt very privileged to attend.

Project Literacy is an international partnership between Unreasonable Group and Pearson which aims to eliminate global illiteracy by 2030, by helping entrepreneurs deliver successful rapid growth ventures. Given that over 758 million people, 10% of the world’s population, lack basic literacy, it’s an exceptionally ambitious target. A year on from its inception, Project Literacy already touches the lives of over 10 million people across 30 countries. The entrepreneurs’ brief TED-style presentations about their ventures were inspiring, with lots of moving stories. One that has stayed with me was of a grandfather engaged in an anti-recidivism project determined to learn to read so he could read to his granddaughter. Some of the initiatives develop children’s and/or adults’ literacy skills directly, in several cases through brilliant apps and other accessible technology. Mobile phones have a reach that was previously unimaginable. Other projects do not tackle illiteracy head on, but nevertheless have a major impact. By making solar lighting available in homes with no access to the electric grid, Angaza enables children to study after sunset. The affordable, reusable sanitary pads produced by AFRIpads mean girls no longer skip school or drop out due to lack of menstrual products.

Literacy is vital, for individuals and for societies. Nisha Ligon of Ubongo, a great educational entertainment programme, said ‘once children learn to read, they can read to learn’. Entrepreneur and Project Literacy co-founder Daniel Epstein spoke of the link between literacy and life expectancy. Lily Cole, Project Literacy’s amabassador, told us the rate of violent crime is double among illiterate people, and that literacy is key to combating radicalisation and AIDS. Infant mortality goes down 30% if mothers are literate.

An amazing afternoon.