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

Friday, 8 March 2019

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

Max & Amazing BabyYou are never too young for books!

It’s a while since my last round-up of recent research and articles about children’s reading, and lots have come out since.

New studies reveal that the number of 8 to 18-year-olds reading for pleasure has dropped to 52.5%, down from 58.8% in 2016, with only a quarter reading daily, compared with 43% in 2015, and that only 32% of British children under 13 are read to daily by an adult for pleasure, 9 percentage points down on 2012.

According to the What Kids Are Reading 2019 report, only a quarter of pupils get the recommended daily time for reading for pleasure. (It’s important to know that this report only surveys children involved in the Accelerated Reader programme, and is not representative of all children or all schools.)

New research demonstrates that parents and carers who regularly read with small children give them a language advantage of eight months. The biggest difference is with receptive language skills, i.e. understanding. Socially disadvantaged children experience slightly more benefit than others.

A study into the Too Small to Fail campaign in the US shows that when doctors explain to parents the value of talking, reading and singing with their babies and children it has a major impact.

The International Literacy Association has produced a list of children’s rights to read. These are the stand-outs for me, none of them surprising, but all of them important to re-iterate:

  • Children have the basic human right to read.
  • Children have the right to choose what they read.
  • Children have the right to read texts that mirror their experiences and languages, provide windows into the lives of others, and open doors into our diverse world.
  • Children have the right to read for pleasure.
  • Children have the right to supportive reading environments with knowledgeable literacy partners.

Also from the ILA, ‘Creating passionate readers through independent reading’ has lots of useful information and ideas.

‘Comprehension is essential to phonics lessons, and picture books are a great place to start’ came out last summer, but I only came across it recently. Worthwhile reading for primary teachers.

Finally, there are lots of great ideas in this post from the Renfrewshire school that won the Literacy School of the Year award in 2018.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Reading for mindfulness and wellbeing – a new course and useful links

SloughI loved seeing this girl immersed in her library book, oblivious to all that was going on around her, stress-free. There is growing evidence that books and reading can play a valuable role in supporting children’s wellbeing. I was delighted to give a course about this recently. We explored the links between reading and mental health and identified ways to use books to build children’s self-esteem, self-awareness, mindfulness, resilience, empathy and understanding. The discussions were inspiring. (Details of this new area of training are now on my website.)

I thought it might be useful to share links to organisations, reports, articles and a video that I have found particularly illuminating and helpful, some of them about children’s mental health, others specifically about books and reading.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Children’s and young people’s reading – recent research and articles

family in Daunt BooksI loved seeing and hearing this family’s shared reading in a bookshop recently. What a perfect illustration for my latest round-up of reading news and views.

Author Cressida Cowell argues strongly that if we want our children to thrive, teaching them to read is not enough – they must learn to enjoy it.

‘When screens are more appealing than books, we need to teach children how to be biliterate’ is worth a read.

New research shows that the home literacy environment is a correlate, but perhaps not a cause, of variations in language and literacy development.

Another recent study highlights the importance of a book-rich home environment in adolescence. Teenagers in homes with almost no books went on to have below average literacy and numeracy levels, whereas teenagers with only lower levels of secondary education but who came from homes filled with books become as literate in adulthood as graduates who grew up with only a few books.

Young people who read fiction have significantly stronger reading skills than their peers who do not, according to new findings from the Institute of Education.

School librarian Sally Cameron’s article ‘Why incentivising reading does not work’ makes interesting reading.

Comprehension is a crucial aspect of reading skills. ‘Comprehension is a long and wide game’ by Simon Smith is interesting and useful. Michael Rosen’s blog ‘What does it mean to read and understand a text? The “reader-response” processes’ is packed with detailed ideas.

This month saw the release of the latest ROGO Index. The annual index brings together data on the reading skills, reading enjoyment and reading frequency of eleven year-olds. These are this year’s headline findings:

  • children’s daily reading levels have risen slightly since 2016/17
  • daily reading levels continue to be an area of great concern, lagging significantly behind levels of reading skill
  • levels of reading enjoyment have remained relatively unchanged
  • national curriculum reading scores increased by 3 percentage points over the past year while reading scores from GL Assessment and Renaissance have remained relatively stable
  • girls continue to outperform boys in all areas of reading, with a particularly marked gap in daily reading levels

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Reading in the early years – links to useful websites, reports and books

you choose 1##I’m giving lots of courses on creating a love of books and reading in the early years at the moment. It’s one of my favourite training topics, and a crucial one. I will blog soon about why it is so important. Meanwhile, I thought it might be useful to share links to websites, research and books that I find particularly valuable. Many of these are relevant across the board, while some are particularly applicable to early years practitioners and teachers, some to librarians, some to parents and carers.

And what better way to illustrate the list than this fabulous photo of a 20 month-old, sent to me by a course participant last week.

Book Finder
Bookbug
Books for Keeps
Bookstart
Core Books Online
Developing Early Literacy 0-8: From Theory to Practice, ed Virginia Bower, Sage, 2014, ISBN 9781446255339
Digital Technology and the Early Years, National Literacy Trust, 2017
Early Literacy Practices at Home, National Literacy Trust, 2016
Federation of Children’s Books Groups
Foundations of Literacy, by Sue Palmer, Featherstone Education, 2013, ISBN 9781408193846
Healthy Books
Library Services from Birth to Five: Delivering the Best Start, ed Carolynn Rankin and Avril Brock, Facet Publishing, 2015, ISBN 9781783300082
Love My Books
Love Reading 4 Kids
Preparing for Literacy, Education Endowment Foundation, 2018
Read On Get On
Reading Zone
Rhyme Time and Seven Quality Principles Toolkit
Road to Reading, by Jillian Harker, Early Education, 2011
Universally Speaking – Ages and Stages of Children’s Communication Development for Children Aged Birth to 5, The Communication Trust, 2013
Words for Life

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