Tag archives: e-books

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.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Children’s and young people’s reading – latest reports etc

Several interesting reports and blogs about children’s and young people’s reading have been published recently.

The Bookseller last week reported research on teachers’ views on reading for pleasure. While teachers are convinced about its importance, they are frustrated that the prescriptiveness of the curriculum leaves them too little time to promote it. The absence of librarians in lots of schools is seen as another significant barrier.

Few people will be surprised that children and young people are doing an increasing amount of reading on electronic devices. Sadly, the National Literacy Trust has found that those who read only electronic books daily are significantly less likely to be strong readers than those who read daily in print, and much less likely to enjoy reading.

More evidence has emerged that books at home are the single most important predictor of student performance. Author Tamsyn Murray derides the notion of the book at bedtime, not because she does not believe in reading to children, but because she thinks it should happen all the time. I love the picture of happy family reading here.

Researchers tell us that reading fiction can increase empathy, improve decision-making and make people more comfortable with uncertainty. In the light of this, it’s worth mentioning that the Guardian  has launched its children’s fiction prize book club. Finally, Julia Eccleshare recently pondered whether children’s books are darker than they used to be. Her conclusion? Children’s books have always tackled challenging issues, and it is part of their value.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Kids and Family Reading Report

The latest Kids and Family Reading Report sheds very interesting light on reading habits. Although it relates to the US, I am sure the findings are applicable more widely. These are some of the most pertinent in terms of e-books:

  • The percentage of children and young people who have read an e-book has almost doubled in two years (46% v 26%).
  • One in five who have read e-books say they are reading more books for fun, with boys more likely to agree than girls.
  • Half of 9-17 year-olds say they would read more books for fun if they had greater access to e-books, 50% more than in 2010.
  • However four-fifths of those who read e-books still read books for fun primarily in print.
  • Children’s and young people see the chief benefits of e-books as convenience, a perception that they are a cool or more interesting way to read, and ease of looking up words.
  • They prefer e-books to print when on the move and when they don’t want friends to know what they are reading. (I’ve often spoken about the value of this, given the fears many children and young people have about how their peers will judge them for their reading – see this recent National Literacy survey.)
  • Printed books are deemed preferable in bed and when they want to share with their friends.
  • Children’s and young people’s choice of e-books is affected by their interactive features, these being the most popular:
    1. a dictionary (72%)
    2. note-taking, highlighting, commenting features (70%)
    3. activities to improve reading and/or vocabulary (67%)
    4. fun activities like games (64%)
    5. video (62%)
    6. read-aloud option (61%)
    7. following along when the narrator is reading (59%)
  • Over half of respondents say they will always want to read printed books even though there are e-books available.

Here are some other statistics that particularly caught my eye:

  • The most important reasons cited for reading for fun are:
    1. entertainment (74%)
    2. to help school success (68%) (how sad this is so high)
    3. to learn new information (67%)
    4. to use your imagination (65%)
  • Libraries are the most popular places to find books to read for fun. (I hope this is the case in the UK too, but with all the dreadful library cuts I wonder if it will continue to be.)
  • Over 90% of children and young people say they are more likely to finish a book they choose themselves.
  • Among girls, there has been a decline since 2010 in frequent readers (42% v 36%), reading enjoyment (71% v 66%), and the importance of reading books for fun (62% v 56%)
  • Boys are more likely now to think reading books for fun is important (47% v 39%), but they still lag girls (47% v 56%)
  • Frequency of reading books for fun is significantly lower for 12-17 year-olds than 6-11s; so is frequency of reading for school.
  • Having reading role-model parents or a large book collection at home has more impact on  reading frequency than household income. (This ties in with the findings of National Literacy Trust highlighting the importance of family support for children’s and young people’s reading, which I blogged about recently.)

I will certainly be bearing all this in mind as I prepare for the courses I have coming up on promoting reading. These things matter. We have known for many years that reading enjoyment is a crucial factor in reading attainment and that it impacts on life chances, hence the push on reading for pleasure by DfE and Ofsted.This is an English teacher’s passionate piece of advocacy for reading, and here are some young people talking about why they read.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

IBBY/NCRCL MA conference 2012: Beyond the Book

I always look forward to the IBBY/NCRCL MA conferences, and Saturday’s lived up to expectations. The array of speakers was truly impressive, and there was a profusion of exhilarating ideas.

A lecture on 18th century children’s literature hadn’t sounded of enormous interest, but Matthew Grenby held me riveted with his exploration of the inter-relationship between the oral tradition, maternal manuscript writings and the early printed book, and how these reflected cultural norms of the times. He shared fascinating examples. One manuscript book was remarkably similar to today’s picture books. We then skipped a couple of centuries, as speakers from Nosy Crow, Winged Chariot and Hot Key Books brought us right up to date with latest developments in digital publishing. It was great to hear about the innovations happening with apps and e-books. (I blogged about Maggot Moon, one of Hot Key’s publications recently.) Touch-screen technology in particular is revolutionising children’s book publishing, and children’s experiences of books and reading in very exciting ways. Interestingly, all the speakers were adamant that children need immersion in printed books as well as digital ones.

Sita Brahmachari, author of Artichoke Hearts, next gave a brilliant account of the adaptation of Shaun Tan’s wonderful wordless picture book about migration The Arrival that she and Tamasha Theatre Company have created for circus performance. The processes she described of bringing the book alive in a new way were amazing, not least multi-lingual oral testimony and a verse transcript. We saw a tantalising video clip. The show is going on tour shortly. I can’t wait!

A brief résumé of IBBY news and lunch were followed by workshops. The two I attended were very stimulating, one on children’s responses to wolves in children’s books, and one on the impact of e-books on children’s reading. Research in the mid 90s suggests e-books may aid reading comprehension. A very small recent study indicates that they can change reluctant readers’ attitudes to reading. More research is needed. It would be particularly valuable to find out the impact of modern forms of e-books on comprehension.

I found the next session, Eight books is never enough, especially interesting. School librarian Kay Waddilove gave us a fabulous insight, complete with two videos, into Carnegie shadowing at JFS School. Twelve year-old Carnegie reviewer Emilia Lamkin’s enthusiasm was infectious. Shadowing has increased her confidence, improved her writing and changed her approach to reading.

Children’s dramatist David Wood was fascinating on the excitements and challenges of adapting books by authors as diverse as Roald Dahl, Michelle Magorian, Philippa Pearce, Dick King-Smith, Eric Hill and Judith Kerr for the stage. I was intrigued by the differing extents to which authors get involved. We then heard from some authors, and an illustrator, as Candy Gourlay, James Mayhew and Karin Littlewood described their work as curators for the incredible Pop-Up Festival of Stories, a brilliant and innovative call to reading.

The last speaker of the day was super-talented illustrator Jim Kay, who shot to fame with his illustrations for A Monster Calls. His talk was illuminating and entertaining. He tries to stay faithful to all the books he illustrates. It took him many attempts to get the monster as he wanted, with sufficient gravitas, plus enough anonymity and ambiguity to allow readers to create their own imagined pictures.

A great day! Just William’s 90th anniversary cake was a delicious bonus.

Monday, 9 January 2012

The value of e-books and apps for children with special educational needs

For anyone with an interest in promoting children’s reading and supporting children with special needs, I thoroughly recommend this blog by Alex Strick, Disability Consultant at Booktrust.

Important ideas on the value of e-books and apps for making reading accessible to children with learning difficulties and autism and those who are blind or partially sighted, and their scope for developing communication and other skills.