Tag archives: comprehension

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

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.