Tag archives: boys’ reading

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Recent news and articles about children’s and young people’s reading

IMG_3406I love this picture, Jeune fille lisant by Simon Simon-Auguste, which I came across in the art gallery in Troyes in France last summer. It seems the perfect illustration for my latest round-up of reading news.

‘How reading impacts your kid’s brain’ pulls together research on the benefits of reading for brain development, mental health and even life expectancy.

‘Learning to read is a complex process, so we need to make sure that it isn’t reduced to one strategy’ identifies methods for helping young children engage with the written word.

There are more good ideas for making reading fun in the early years in ‘Making storytime special.’

In ‘Why whole-class reading beats a carousel – and seven ways to ensure it is successful’ a KS2 teacher explains his preference for whole-class reading sessions over guided reading, and lists key ingredients for making them work.

A US study demonstrates that classroom book collections arranged by topic rather than by level increase children’s reading skills, motivation and enjoyment.

The International Literacy Association’s annual What’s Hot in Literacy survey highlights significant mismatches between what is currently hot in literacy teaching and what should be.

New research indicates that print books remain more popular with children than reading from screens. The study also discovered that the more devices a child has access to, the less they read.

‘Print matters’ explores the reasons for children’s and families’ preference for print over digital reading. Parents and children like the physicality of printed books and enjoy the emotional closeness of sharing them.

However, the way children read changes with age. Whereas 9-12 year-olds read offline for twice as long as online, 13-16 year-olds spend double the amount of time reading online, according to a new Childwise report. The report also found that a third of 15-16 year-olds say they never read, compared to 5% of 9-10 year-olds, and that boys are almost twice as likely never to read as girls (20%, compared to 11%).

I was delighted by a headteacher’s piece on why she asks interviewees what they are reading. ‘I need teachers who have a rich hinterland, and who can encourage reading in children. I want them to have read enough books not to be embarrassed when faced with a class reader. I want them to be keen to enter another world for a bit, and I want them to do it for themselves.’

Finally, do read this heart-warming letter from teacher Jon Biddle to his class.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Children’s reading – news, articles and quotes for Children’s Book Week

embrun-statueWhat better time to reflect on children’s reading and explore the latest research and articles about it than Children’s Book Week. And what better quote to start with than English teacher and children’s author Emma Cox’s words in her TES article about the value of reading for children: ‘Reading is the most powerful gift we can give a child: it puts stardust in their imaginations’. Lovely!

I took the photo in Embrun in the French Alps. Great to see children’s reading celebrated in this way.

November is National Non-Fiction Month – the perfect opportunity to highlight information books and harness their value. So many children get into reading because they love finding things out. Non-fiction can change the attitudes of reluctant readers. There’s a poster and information available about 100 brilliant NF books, and a chance to win the entire set. The National Federation of Children’s Book Groups blog has lots of interesting posts on NF themes. The Federation has an activity pack to encourage NF book-making and tips for booking NF authors.

I totally agree with the title, and the content, of the latest BookTrust blog ‘No wrong book’ – how to get your child reading.

New research shows that reading to children is more effective than technology at boosting science skills.

There’s been lots of press coverage of a report on boy’s reading that says boys read less thoroughly than girls, and therefore understand less, and that they are more likely to choose books below their reading level. The research is based on analysis of Accelerated Reader data, which has raised questions among some commentators about its overall validity.

Susan Elkin has written an article on how to get boys reading.

‘Equip teachers to support children with language disorders in the classroom’ makes interesting reading, showing that lack of recognition of language disorders has major impact on children’s literacy and wider learning.

For those working in the secondary sector, I came across a useful blog on the importance of higher level language skills for literacy, in particular the need for support for comprehension, especially for students with poor language skills.

I was pleased to discover innovative ideas for supporting literacy through photography.

Finally, wise words from Professor Teresa Cremin: ‘We cannot require children to read with or for pleasure, nor can we oblige them to engage positively in words and worlds. We can, however, invite and entice children to find enjoyment in reading, share our own pleasures (and dissatisfactions) as readers, and work to build communities of engaged readers.’

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Children’s and young people’s reading: recent news and views

dog readingLots of serious news and views to come, but I couldn’t resist starting with a story about a dog that’s learnt to read.

New OECD data tells us that young people in England have lowest literacy levels in developed world. As a trainer who specialises in children’s and young people’s reading, I am always keen to explore ways to make reading more accessible, attractive and worthwhile. Digital reading surely has a big part to play.

I felt very privileged to attend this fascinating debate on children’s reading in the digital age. Well worth watching, to find out how good use of technology has the power to bridge the alarming literacy gaps in the UK.

The National Literacy Trust reported in December that e-books make a particular difference to boys’ reading. The report prompted a BBC exploration of the place of e-books in schools.

A new survey by Booktrust found that families prefer printed books and lots of parents have qualms about digital reading. Chief executive Diana Gerald points out its benefits, when used in partnership with printed books.

I would completely agree with this, and we are immensely lucky in this country to have wonderful children’s books at our disposal.

Michael Rosen is fascinating on what children learn from picture books and how.

Here’s the Canadian Paediatric Society on why it’s never too early to start reading with children.

A recent study found that toddlers could be ready to begin reading lessons at 3. Without doubt we should encourage a love of books from babyhood onwards, but let’s make sure that’s what the emphasis is about, not reading lessons. I was very interested to read parent Sally Marks lamenting the focus on phonics drilling at home. ‘Let’s leave phonics to schools and curl up with a good book instead.’

If we want to ensure children feel positively about reading, we must of course read to them, and not just when they are very young. Do check out this inspirational TED talk by teacher Rebecca Bellingham on why it matters.

I also strongly recommend a great series of vlogs by author Phil Earle for Booktrust. I so agree with him that children need to be able to choose books that give them sense of achievement.

Like many others, I have a particular concern about comprehension. Lots of teachers on courses tell me about children who are excellent at decoding, but do not understand what they are reading. In which case, what’s the point? Here’s a useful blog about how to use questioning to support comprehension.

Study after study has proved that children and young people who enjoy reading read more and are better at it. Hardly surprising! It’s instructive to read this teenager’s view that students need to enjoy the books their GCSE books.

And here’s another valuable article from the Guardian children’s book site: Children’s books: a middle class ghetto?

Finally, on a much lighter note, the results of a poll about heroes and villains in children’s literature. I’m delighted to see Pooh and Paddington among the heroes. Cruella de Vil and Mrs Coulter are definitely my favourite villains.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Children’s reading – recent news and articles

IMG_0274#I love this photo, an entry in an extreme reading challenge at Hinchley Wood Primary School.

What a lot of reading news and comment to catch up on since my last round-up!

Back in October Michael Wilshaw of Ofsted discussed progress in reading at primary level and aired concerns about the lack of support at secondary.

It’s well worth reading teacher Nancie Atwell’s piece ‘It’s time to take a hard look at how we teach reading.’

‘Reading for Pleasure: A Primary School Guide’ is also thought-provoking and useful.

Do read Teresa Cremin’s blog questioning whether the inclusion of reading for pleasure in the national curriculum is a mixed blessing.

Teachers and school librarians will find ‘Creating a Reading Culture: Get Your Whole School Reading’ from the Scottish Book Trust very helpful.

Michael Morpurgo says an obsession with ‘literacy’ is stifling writing talent.

There’s interesting information in the new Literacy Trust report, ‘Teachers and Literacy: Their Perceptions, Understanding, Confidence and Awareness’.

DfE data shows that boys trail girls in literacy when starting school.

Frank Furedi seeks to scotch the myth that boys don’t read.

New research tells us that reading e-books improves reading performance, especially among boys.

Intriguingly, we also discovered that 16-24 year-olds still prefer print to e-books.

According to another recent survey 14-17 year-olds are the least likely age group among 0-25s to read. Young people return to reading after 18.

Finally, for those who missed it, the BBC is planning a year-long campaign to get the nation reading, including a children’s books season.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Literacy and gender – research, articles and training

msoD229AI was very struck by an article about gender stereotypes in the TES last week (not yet online). Five year-old children’s stories reveal considerable gender differences, and show that gender stereotypes are already ingrained by this age, with children believing that boys should be strong and brave, and that girls are more concerned with family and love. Boys are much readier than girls to see themselves as heroes of their stories.

Gender differences in literacy have been the subject of debate and soul-searching for decades. I have given training on children’s reading for twenty years now, and there has been no time in that period when I have not been asked for courses on boys and reading.

Latest available figures from the National Literacy Trust show significant gaps in reading and writing attainment and reading enjoyment between boys and girls. We know from Sutton Trust research that boys from disadvantaged backgrounds fare particularly badly.

I was fascinated to find out from the recent OECD report on gender equality in education, that while there is a gender gap in literacy in school years in all OECD countries, among 16-25 year-olds the difference all but disappears, suggesting that as boys mature and become young men they acquire some of the reading skills they hadn’t acquired at school through work and life experience. The report also discloses considerable unconscious gender bias in teachers’ marking. Girls are often given higher marks, even when their performance is similar.

I very much agree with children’s author Jon Scieska’s assertion that ‘one of the best things we can do to help boys is to expand the definition of reading.’ Boys often read more than they are given credit for. I love the photo here of a family member engrossed in his reading.

Boys can be chatterboxes too! explores ways to make sure boys are given appropriate language support in the early years. All activities can be language activities, the blog points out.

I started with the TES article. I can’t resist finishing with this story by a five year-old boy quoted in it. ‘Once there was an army man that was very brave until he became old, and he lived to be 33.’ Wonderful!