Tag archives: reading enjoyment

Friday, 23 February 2018

Language and literacy news and articles

mso64805There have been lots of useful articles and reports about children’s language and literacy development and ways to support them published in the last couple of months. Here’s a round-up.

Important new research shows that engaging young children in conversation is more valuable for brain development than ‘dumping words’ on them.

An analysis has recently been published exploring whether screens help or hinder language development in the early years.

We know that children’s language and literacy is immensely enhanced by being read to, so it is sad to see that only half of pre-school children are being read to every day.

Reading aloud is of course not just important for young children. ‘Encouraging a love of reading in a culture of assessment’ by parent Brian Gesko is moving and valuable.

Disturbing National Literacy Trust research highlights a huge gap in life expectancy between children in areas of good and poor literacy.

Do read ‘The best way to start closing the attainment gap between poor kids and their peers? Reading, reading, reading’ by head teacher Colin Harris.

It’s also well worth looking at this article showing how literacy skills have significantly improved as a result of the reading for pleasure scheme in Renfrewshire primary schools.

Primary English lead Rachel Lopiccolo suggests five ways to boost reading for pleasure in primary schools.

There are valuable ideas in ‘Why every class needs read alouds’. I love this: ‘The read aloud is like the Swiss Army knife of literacy; it has multiple uses at every age and in every content area.’

The ever-useful Scottish Book Trust lists some creative ways to get primary children to respond to books.

‘Fascinating rhythm’ is interesting on the value of rhythm for dyslexic and other children for phonemic awareness, reading fluency and wider learning, and ways to embed it.

A new report that tells us secondary school students are reading well below their reading level has received considerable press coverage, for instance this Guardian piece. It’s important to note however that this research is based solely on data from the Accelerated Reader project, and many have questioned its accuracy as a national picture.

‘Don’t knock kids for rereading books. Encourage them to read, full stop’ is a thoughtful response to the report and its reception by the director of the English and Media Centre.

Friday, 12 January 2018

News and articles about children’s reading

Hampton LibraryThis is the very welcoming children’s area of Hampton Library in Peterborough, where I gave a course this week on encouraging a love of books and reading in the early years. I’m currently planning next week’s follow-up on supporting reading in the primary years. Because of all the training I give on children’s and young people’s reading, I always like to keep up to date with latest research. Here’s the news I’ve come across in the last couple of months, along with a number of valuable articles.

The government has pledged £120 million to tackle the early years word gap.

They are also planning ‘English hubs’ and phonics roadshows to boost literacy, news that has been met with a certain amount of cynicism and anger, in the light of mass closures of libraries.

Northern Ireland and England schools are now in the global top ten for reading. However, analysis by NFER demonstrates that the improvement on previous years is small and that England has an above average number of children who do not like reading.

New research shows that over 750,000 UK children have no books of their own, a worrying statistic as children without books are fifteen times less likely to be good readers.

One in five parents of primary children spend no time reading with their children and over half spend less than an hour a week reading to them. Meanwhile a third think their children don’t read enough books. If only they saw the connection! (I missed this news in September, so am including it here.)

Another new report shows that children’s levels of reading enjoyment and daily reading frequency are both lower than their levels of cognitive reading skills.

It’s always interesting and useful to see the annual International Literacy Association What’s Hot in Literacy survey.

Do read Geoff Barton’s article ‘I salute the teachers, TAs and librarians who inspire a love of reading in children for whom books are alien’. Great to see librarians given due recognition. I applaud this too: ‘We need also to celebrate schools that maintain a commitment to wide-ranging, joyful reading for pleasure, rather than texts deployed merely for comprehension and analysis.’

Rob Smith has written about the importance of letting children enjoy being read to and reading for themselves without always having to answer questions, write reviews, or do some other ‘work thing’.

School librarian of the year Lucas Maxwell has blogged for Booktrust about ways social media can connect students with authors they love.

Lots of useful ideas in teacher Jon Biddle’s two most recent blogs: ‘Ideas for encouraging peer recommendations in the classroom’ and ‘Reading buddies’.

I very much like Imogen Russell Williams’ article on the benefits of illustration in children’s books, which includes excellent book recommendations.

Teresa Cremin has written a valuable piece on the need for teachers’ knowledge of children’s literature to be widened.

Finally, again from Lucas Maxwell, a tale of reluctant readers and a book.

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Literacy and language news and articles

Carrickmacross Library This is the children’s area in Carrickmacross Library in Monaghan County, the lovely venue for a course on reading for pleasure that I gave this week – a fitting illustration for my latest round-up of language and literacy news.

A call has been made for early language development to be prioritised as a well-being indicator to try to bridge the big gap in early language development between children in low-income and better-off households, which gets worse with age, and has major consequences.

A new study indicates that babies as young as six months old may realise certain words are related, and that interaction with adults boosts understanding.

Watching television or playing with smart phone apps does not have any effect on children’s language development, providing they still spend time reading, researchers have found.

Justine Greening has unveiled a new network to boost early literacy.

The gap in reading and writing scores between poorer children and their more advantaged classmates has widened slightly at age 7.

Oral language is key to reading, says literacy expert Dr Jessie Ricketts, but the subject is sorely neglected in schools, and pupils could be missing out on progression as a result.

The Department for Education’s promotion of synthetic phonics can be damaging to early readers and is seriously flawed, according to Dr Andrew Davis of the University of Durham’s school of education.

Research by the Centre for Longitudinal Studies shows that reading improves teenagers’ vocabulary, whatever their background. The lead author says: “The link between reading for pleasure and better vocabularies suggests that if young people are encouraged to discover a love for books, it could alter the course of their lives, regardless of their background.”

The new HMCI, Amanda Spielman, has expressed concerns about the curriculum narrowing both at primary and secondary level. Here is some of what she says in relation to KS2 SATs preparation and reading: “Testing in school clearly has value. This kind of test is intended to measure the child’s ability to comprehend. However, the regular taking of test papers does little to increase a child’s ability to comprehend. A much better use of time is to teach and help children to read and read more. Additionally, the books that teachers read to children need to be more challenging than those the children are picking up themselves.”

Sarah Hubbard, Her Majesty’s Inspector, and National Lead for English, has written about the English curriculum.

‘Ideas for encouraging peer recommendations in the classroom’ by primary teacher Jon Biddle has lots of great strategies for creating a buzz about reading.

A scheme in Blackpool is helping more fathers read with their children every day. This video makes lovely viewing.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Reading dogs

Fifteen or more years ago my late brother-in-law, an inspirational primary school headteacher and adviser, told me about the amazing impact his dog was having on pupils’ reading. Children who struggled with reading, and for whom reading aloud was a humiliating ordeal, happily read to Buddy. Nick saw their confidence, behaviour and skills surge. The key, of course, was that Buddy was friendly and cuddly and non-judgemental (also deaf, though the children didn’t know that).

reading dog - Townhill Community School & Swansea Library ServiceIn those days the concept of a reading dog was pretty revolutionary. Happily that has changed. The value of reading dogs is now widely attested. I was reminded of Nick and Buddy when Carole Billingham, Swansea Children and Youth Librarian, shared this great picture at a course of mine on special educational needs that she attended. Her dog Stella lives up to her starry name when she helps struggling readers in the library and local schools. I loved hearing about Stella’s transformative effect on children’s language and literacy skills, and on their motivation and well-being. The children here are from Townhill Community School.

Please, Sir – sit! The tale of a learning support dog’ quotes research that children who read to listening dogs show an increase in reading levels, word recognition, a higher desire to read and write, and an increase in intra and interpersonal skills.

In ‘How these adorable dogs are helping children love reading’ Jaki Brien, a volunteer for Therapy Dogs, describes what happens in reading sessions with her dog, and how and why they change children’s attitudes and aptitudes.

‘Children urged to read to dogs, perfect listeners’ highlights the therapeutic as well as literacy benefits of reading dogs. ‘Meet the dogs who help children learn to read’ reports children’s emotional intelligence growing alongside their vocabulary.


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.