Tag archives: reading news

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Children’s reading news – latest guidelines, research and articles

basketI’m looking forward to getting my hundreds of children’s books properly sorted. I moved over the summer, hence this later than usual round-up of reading-related reports and articles.

The Government’s new publication The Reading Framework: teaching the foundations of literacy is essential reading for teachers and others supporting children in reception and year 1, and for those involved with older children who have not yet mastered the foundations of reading. Good to see the emphasis placed on reading for pleasure and the importance of stories and book talk.

School librarians and others will find lots of practical advice on promoting reading in ‘How to encourage reading for pleasure on a budget’.

‘Reading for kids – Tips for keeping them interested’ also has useful ideas.

New National Literacy Trust research shows that in-game communication is the second most popular form of on-screen reading among young people, and that young people enjoy playing video games alongside (rather than at the expense of) activities such as reading, writing, physical activity and socialising.

Another recent Literacy Trust survey found that listening to audiobooks is a popular activity that increases children’s interest in books and in diversity, and is good for wellbeing.

A new report shows how audiobooks can help build reading engagement with younger children, particularly around interaction, complementing other forms of storytelling.

Booktrust is piloting a new national library experience called BookTrust Storytime, to support families with 0-5 year-olds, particularly those who are disadvantaged, engage with their local public library and develop an ongoing reading habit.

Research shows that writing by hand benefits the development of reading skills.

There are links between mathematical difficulty and poor language skills.

Finally, a good piece by Lauren Child on why children’s books should be taken seriously.

Friday, 28 May 2021

Children’s reading news update

hungry caterpillarSo sad that the legendary Eric Carle has died. His wonderful, ground-breaking books have lit up the lives of generations of children all over the world.

It was wonderful to hear Marcus Rashford talking about his belief in the power of books and reading and his mission to get children reading on Channel 4 News last week. I also loved this snippet from a Zoom call between him and Barack Obama, in which they discussed the magic of books. ‘Rather than someone telling me to do this and do that, books allowed me to do it my own way’ said Rashford.

The latest PISA report ’21st Century Readers’ has important and interesting findings, including lots about the need for critical reading skills and the extent to which these are taught and learnt across OECD countries, and about reading gaps relating to gender and to socio-economic background.

New research indicates that children read more challenging books in lockdowns.

‘Literacy by stealth: How video games can make a difference’ is well worth reading.

‘The Benefits of Reading for Fun’ demonstrates the academic impact of reading for pleasure. Making sure students have rich and varied reading diets and can exercise choice are key.

If you haven’t yet come across it yet, do take a looks at this useful Reading for Pleasure padlet.

The new Decade of Diversity initiative is a campaign to advance diversity and inclusion in schools. One of its aims is to ensure 25% diverse literature in schools by 2030.

Finally, a pleasing suggestion in the Guardian: as online social interaction has been found to help protect older people against dementia, reading bedtime stories to grandchildren over Zoom has even more benefits than we knew.

Monday, 19 April 2021

Children’s reading: latest news

Issy and Frankie

A new term, and a new round-up of news, research and articles on children’s reading. Many thanks to the kind librarian who sent me this wonderful photo of her book-loving children.

Very distressing news first: Covid may leave twelve million children globally unable to read, with girls particularly impacted.

Recently released PISA data demonstrates that students with a growth mindset score considerably higher in reading than students with a fixed mindset after accounting for the socio-economic profile of students and schools.

CLPE’s Reading for Pleasure 2021 report examines literacy teaching during the pandemic. The teachers surveyed worked hard to retain a reading for pleasure approach, but had big concerns about many children’s lack of access to books.

The ever-inspiring Marcus Rashford today launched a book club for disadvantaged children. He has teamed up with publishers MacMillan which will donate 50,000 books to be distributed in over 850 primary schools through the children’s food charity Magic Breakfast.

Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, with the support of all her predecessor Laureates and the heads of virtually every reading-related organisation in England, has urged the Prime Minister to provide ring-fenced funds for school libraries to address the reading gap worsened by the pandemic.

I found ‘A reading curriculum: gap-widening vs gap-narrowing’ by teacher and writer David Didau thought-provoking and useful.

‘How children read differently from books vs screens’ also makes very interesting reading.

Finally, I loved ‘It takes a village to raise a reader’, a delightful piece about the power and influence of reading role models by Julia Marshall.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Children’s reading news, research, resources

A shelves

It’s a long time since my last blog on news from the world of children’s reading. These are some things that have particularly caught my attention.

Research by the World Book Day charity, which brings together the UK’s leading reading and educational charities, shows that children and parents embraced reading at the start of the pandemic, with major benefits in terms of wellbeing and development, although one year on reading has decreased slightly. Parents read more with children during lockdown and encouraged children to read more too. ‘Whilst engaging children with their online lessons often became a battleground for families, parents who read aloud to their children every day noticed an improvement in wellbeing, behaviour, family bonds and attainment with schoolwork (even when home educating).’ Young people said reading helped them relax and made them feel happy. Over 80% of teachers said they found ways of reading aloud to their classes during the pandemic because it provided an emotional support as well as developing literacy skills. A much less positive finding was that access to books remains a serious issue, particularly amongst disadvantaged children and families.

The headlines about the latest Childwise survey focused on the finding that 25% of children never read for pleasure. A different, and equally valid take is that 75% do. Reading for pleasure peaks at ages 9-10 apparently.

A report by the Education Endowment Foundation found that disadvantaged primary school pupils are seven months behind their peers in reading, although it urged caution over the findings.

Leading organisations and individuals in the fields of literacy, education and the arts have joined CLPE and Fair Education Alliance in a call for long term, sustained funding for rich literacy provision. ‘Catch up’ should not be limited to functional skills, they stress.

The National Literacy Trust report Seeing yourself in what you read: diversity and children and young people’s reading in 2020 found that nearly a third of 9-18 year-olds don’t see themselves in what they read, with a higher proportion among those from ethnic minority backgrounds. Almost 40% would like more books with characters like them. More children and young people who receive free school meals than those who don’t say that they don’t see themselves in what they read. The issue of representation was particularly salient for children and young people who describe their gender not as a boy or girl.

Early learning and child well-being : a study of five-year-olds in England, Estonia, and the United States contains lots relating to literacy including:

  • Emergent literacy correlates positively with emergent numeracy and also self-regulation skills, empathy and social behaviour.
  • Emergent literacy impacts on later school achievement.
  • In the early years, the most important components of emergent literacy are listening comprehension, vocabulary and phonological awareness.
  • What parents do is pivotal for their children’s development.
  • Girls do better in emergent literacy.
  • Children in England from families with a migrant background had lower emergent literacy scores than those from non-immigrant backgrounds, even after adjusting for socio-economic status and home language.
  • Children with learning difficulties and children with social, emotional or behavioural difficulties had lower mean scores in both emergent literacy than children without these difficulties, after accounting for SES.
  • The use of digital devices had little overall significant associations with children’s emergent literacy.

If you missed it at the time, my blog reflecting on a recent study on improving mathematics in early years and KS1 explores the value of using books to support teaching and learning across the curriculum.

Turn on the Subtitles is well worth a look. The research into the value of subtitles is compelling.

Finally, some recommendations for anyone interested in reading for pleasure:

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Children’s reading news

reading books

My last round-up of research and articles about children’s and young people’s reading was in early March, before lockdown hit. This latest one – illustrated with some of my favourite contemporary and classic books about children’s reading – includes a number of reports about its impact, as well as several other interesting and valuable studies.

Research by Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) reveals that England’s nine and 10-year-olds are bucking international trends by showing an increasingly positive attitude to reading.

The latest annual survey of children’s reading by the National Literacy Trust has less positive findings. Children and young people’s levels of reading enjoyment continue to decrease. Just over half say they enjoy reading, the lowest level since 2013. Children and young people’s daily reading levels are the lowest ever recorded since the survey started in 2005. The gap between girls’ and boys’ engagement in reading is large. A third of children and young people cannot find things to read that interest them. As the report makes clear, these things matter. Children and young people who enjoy reading are three times more likely to read above the level expected for their age than those who don’t, and children who read daily in their free time are twice as likely to read above the level expected for their age than those who don’t.

According to ‘Children and young people’s reading in 2020 before and during the COVID-19 lockdown’ children’s reading enjoyment has increased during lockdown, as has the amount they are reading. Fiction has been particularly popular. Children have reported that reading has supported their mental wellbeing. On the downside, the gap between girls’ and boys’ reading has widened, and for some children and young people the lack of access to books has negatively affected their ability and motivation to read.

NLT research published in July indicates that children have listened to audio books more during lockdown, and that this too has been beneficial in terms of mental wellbeing and interest in reading.

Dr Carina Spaulding of The Reading Agency explores the benefits of family reading in and out of lockdown in a blog for DCMS.

New research tells us that video games help literacy skills in boys and reluctant readers. Video games were also found to be effective at engaging reluctant readers with stories, boosting writing and communication, and supporting mental health during lockdown.

Interesting and useful evidence has been published about the value of watching television with subtitles for children’s reading skills. Subtitles aid vocabulary development, decoding, comprehension and reading fluency. They are immensely beneficial to children who are deaf or have hearing loss. They improve the literacy skills of children who are economically disadvantaged, those who are struggling with reading, and minority language speakers.

A recent study demonstrates that pupils eligible for free school meals are more likely to use the school library daily than their peers who are not eligible. For many, it is a safe haven. Pupils who receive free school meals and use their school library enjoy reading and writing more, read and write for pleasure more, have greater confidence in their reading and writing abilities and engage with a greater diversity of reading material and writing than those who are eligible for FSM but do not use the library.

Finally, the NLT has published an interesting report on the effectiveness of place-based, cross-sector programmes and campaigns in improving outcomes for children.