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

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Children need libraries – quotes on their importance

DSCF1083#The current downgrading and closures of both school and public libraries will have terrible consequences. Here are some potent quotes on the crucial role of libraries and librarians in creating readers and learners.

At the moment we persuade a child, any child, to cross that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better. Barack Obama

Research provides compelling evidence that library usage is linked to reading levels among children and young people, and that library usage and reading, in turn, are important factors in literacy skill levels and general educational attainment. Evidence Review of the Economic Contribution of Libraries

The education that mattered most to me began when my mother first took me to the public library and I registered for my own hallowed ticket. Will Self 

Once a child learns to use a library, the doors to learning are always open. Laura Bush

Libraries are browsing places, dreaming places, finding out places. So much education takes place when children are making choices of their own. Michael Morpurgo

The child who knows his/her way round the library is the one most likely to become an avid reader. Wendy Cooling

For all those children out there who, like me, loved books and couldn’t afford to buy them, all I can say is thank God for our libraries …… Reading should and must be the right of all, not just a privilege for the few. Malorie Blackman

Reading is the centre of learning and libraries are at the heart of this. Gervase Phinn

I see libraries and librarians as frontline soldiers in the war against illiteracy and the lack of imagination. Neil Gaiman

Librarians open up the world ……. 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

Librarians are the custodians of literacy – they lay the stepping stones that start the journey from one book to another, widening horizons and the reading experience. Chris Riddell

The way to get children reading is to leave the library door open and let them read anything and everything they want. Terry Pratchett

Even the most misfitting child
Who’s chanced upon the library’s worth
Sits with the genius of the Earth
And turns the key to the whole world.
from ‘Hear it Again’ Ted Hughes

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Children’s reading: research, tips and articles

adult & girl in FoylesA new term, and there’s lots of children’s reading news and views to catch up on, illustrated with a lovely scene in a bookshop yesterday.

‘Digital text is changing how kids read, just not in the way that you think’ looks at the differences between online and print reading, and their relative merits.

‘Yes, teens are texting and using social media instead of reading books’ explores the impact and the prevalence of online reading in relation to teenagers.

In ‘Skim reading is the new normal’ reading expert Maryanne Wolf (author of Proust and the Squid) discusses the effect of digital reading on the brain.

A new study shows for the first time that heavy use of social media by children has been linked to lower levels of literacy.

‘Can you really teach children to love reading’ has lots of very useful tips. Libraries are rightly given a high profile.

There are loads of great ideas in children’s author Andy Seed’s Reading for Pleasure Manifesto. Highly recommended.

Have a look too at Elizabeth Hutchinson’s valuable blog on reading initiatives.

I found ‘How drama helps primary children understand books and stories’ interesting and useful.

‘Make sure your class book is age-appropriate’ examines the potential harm of teaching books that are beyond children’s age range.

‘Don’t bloody bore them: a guide to picking books for your class’ is well worth a read.

Finally, an inspiring story courtesy of the Guardian: ‘No turban, no sermon, just books for kids: meet Iran’s travelling cleric’.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Children’s language and literacy – a round-up of recent news, research and articles

overview - book awardI loved attending last week’s Redbridge Children’s Book Award ceremony. The buzz around books and reading was palpable, so this photo is the ideal illustration for my final language and literacy news round-up of the school year.

A new study shows that language ability at school entry is an important predictor of student outcomes.

‘What’s going on in your child’s brain when you read them a story’ is interesting and useful.

The Education Endowment Foundation has published an important new report ‘Preparing for literacy’, focusing on the teaching of communication, language and literacy to children between three and five.

Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman has recently spoken about how vital reading and literacy more widely are in the early years. ‘Reading empowers children …… when you make a reader, you give them the world.’

In ‘Why aren’t children reading in schools’ Barbara Band analyses the reasons children may not be readers, and what to do about it, not least a school librarian ‘recognised as a valued professional colleague with specific skills and expertise’.

‘How can schools promote reading for pleasure?’ is well worth reading.

Clare Sealy makes important points about the necessity for daily reading aloud and highlights other reading for pleasure strategies in ‘We must promote reading for pleasure at primary school’.

‘On selecting better read alouds’ by Pernille Ripp has lots of valuable ideas.

In ‘Why asking how to get boys reading might be the wrong question’ author Jason Reynolds suggests that we need to listen to young people if we want to encourage them to get reading.

Do have a look at ‘For some children, reading feels like a cryptic code. We can help them crack it’.

I was very struck by ‘Vocabulary: What does it mean to know a word?’, which explores how to help children gain a strong understanding of words.

The International Literacy Association has published a useful report on reading fluency: ‘Reading fluently does not mean reading fast’.

Ali  Sparkes has three terms’ worth of practical suggestions in ‘Making the most of your author visit in primary’.

RedbridgeThat mention of author visits brings me back to last week’s ceremony, where children’s author Polly Ho-Yen wowed everyone with her passion for reading and writing and her humour. It was great too to hear Mayor Debbie Kaur-Thiara’s heartfelt belief in the power of reading, libraries and the summer reading challenge.

Monday, 25 June 2018

What characterises a good reader?

Sam & Jessie plus book

I often ask participants on training courses what characterises a good reader. It’s not at all an easy question, and there many possible answers.

At a conference recently Ofsted defined good readers as children who can:

•  see images
•  hear a reading voice
•  speculate and predict what happens next
•  ask questions and pass comments
•  empathise and relate what they read to their own experience
•  read and re-read sentences, searching for meaning
•  continually re-interpret as they read
•  enjoy multiple meanings and ambiguity
•  notice and interpret patterns (visual, verbal, aural, thematic, figurative)
•  relate what they have read to their own experience
•  relation their reading to their previous reading experience
•  have a range of reading strategies they can draw on
•  analyse and articulate their own reading processes
•  pass judgments on likes and dislikes
•  take time to think about a text, rather than rushing to judgment
•  read texts in different ways for different purposes

The Ofsted list is useful and thought-provoking. The absence of any reference to enjoyment concerns me deeply though. As you can probably tell from my choice of photo to accompany this, I think children can be good readers even before they have learnt to read.

I found children’s author Piers Torday’s Twitter response to the Ofsted definition inspiring. Alternatively, he wrote, a good reader is also someone who can

•  laugh
•  cry
•  sit on edge of seat
•  wonder
•  think about the world
•  throw the book across the room in rage
•  feel inspired
•  escape reality
•  imagine other lives and experiences
•  close the book and still be somewhere else for a brief moment

Yes, yes, yes!

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Picture books and their value – and some useful websites and publications

KFP2

I was very lucky to attend the Klaus Flugge Prize shortlist announcement last week. The prize is for the most promising and exciting newcomer to children’s picture book illustration. These are the books in contention.

I’m a huge fan of picture books. They have an enormous role to play for children of all ages. Is there any better route into reading for pleasure? Surely there is no aspect of literacy they do not benefit. Picture books are great for building empathy, and for supporting every area of social and emotional development. They increase children’s knowledge and understanding of the world. They develop thinking skills. They stimulate curiosity, imagination and creativity.

I felt very privileged to write a guest blog ‘In praise of picture books’ for the wonderful charity Give a Book recently. It gave me the opportunity to try to encapsulate all they offer and think through good practice in using them. They are on my mind again now as I am in the midst of preparing a picture books training course. All this has made me realise it might be useful to list some online and printed resources about picture books that I find particularly valuable.

Lauren ChildAt the start of this I mentioned the shortlisting event last week. Lauren Child gave a delightful talk about her development as an illustrator. This is one of the pictures she shared. How lovely to discover that the wall here is a National Trust one. She photographed that beautiful sky in Hackney. And the plants? They were growing in a New York allotment.