Tag archives: reading news

Monday, 9 January 2017

Children’s and young people’s reading – latest research and articles

Time for one of my regular round-ups of reading news. But first a wonderful quote from out-going US President Barack Obama: ‘Reading is important. If you know how to read, then the whole world opens up to you.’


The Education Endowment Foundation has found that primary school breakfast clubs boost reading, writing and maths. Thank you to Summer Lane Primary School for the photo of one of their very successful family reading breakfasts.

Read On Get On has published an important strategy, aimed at improving literacy through focusing on reading enjoyment.

Booktrust Chief Executive Diana Gerald believes passionately in reading for pleasure and and in an article about its value argues strongly for children reading what they like. Joy Ballard makes a similar case in ‘Let the teens read Mills and Boon!’ Katie Ashford of Michaela School takes a very different view in ‘Easy books aren’t the route to a lifelong love of reading’. Do read the comment stream beneath this controversial piece.

New research shows that there are lots of girls struggling with reading. The big concern is comprehension.

Secondary school teachers, librarians, students and parents will find lots of ideas for inspiring reading an innovative booklist created by the librarians at Elmgreen School.

Teacher Jesse Buetow’s piece on using technology to inspire independent readers explores the value of student-created book ‘commercials’.

A recent study found interesting differences between reading paper books and screen reading with young children.

It’s well worth listening to this Radio 4 piece on children and ebooks, particularly Julia Eccelshare’s input.

To end, another great quote from Obama: ‘Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible.’

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.

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Children’s reading news, research and articles, and the Ladybird Books approach

Ladybird books 2This summer has been unusually full of reading news, so the start of term seems a good time for a catch-up. To illustrate it, my purchases from the wonderful Ladybird Books exhibition at the House of Illustration (on for three more weeks). Teaching Reading is fascinating. Too much emphasis on the ‘phonic method’, it says, can ‘slow down progress and harm the attitude towards reading’. It also suggests that for most children starting to learn to read before the age of six is counter-productive. How attitudes have changed – and not all for the better.

Nicola Morgan and David Walliams have launched a programme to boost child literacy in the UK. Plans include creating at least 200 new book clubs in primary schools across the country and ensuring every eight-year-old is enrolled at their local library. The programme has not been greeted with universal acclaim. The library membership idea has gone down very badly in many quarters, as many children no longer have access to a library, due to savage cuts to provision.

New studies have found that reading aloud to children, more than talking, builds literacy and that reading to children can transform their brains because it stimulates the creation of synapses.

The Guardian has published a very considered article assessing whether tablet computers are harming children’s ability to read, setting out all the research and presenting a variety of viewpoints.

A new Literacy Trust report explores the role of literacy in public health, and shows that improving families’ literacy can make them healthier.

The Reading Agency has produced a useful literature review on the impact of reading for pleasure. These are the findings that I found particularly interesting:
a) reading for pleasure improves well-being, empathy and social literacy
b) children need to feel that reading brings its own reward, and this should to be considered when trying to promote reading, as many approaches focus on extrinsic rewards
c) social reading and reading peers are very valuable

Jennifer Lagarde has written an inspiring blog on why students need reading champions.

David Didau blogged about how to get students to read for pleasure back in July. His views sparked considerable controversy. It’s well worth looking at the comment stream and at this response from school librarian Barbara Band.

Primary teachers will find this piece on using guided reading to develop comprehension skills useful.

For a lovely, funny take on the power of reading and books, do read this piece by Keith Gray. He extols the delights of Adrian Mole. And for a demonstration of why it’s important for children to choose what they want to read, have a look at Dav Pilkey’s fabulous animation Reading Gives You Superpowers.

Two heart-warming stories to end: A Romanian city offers free rides to people reading on the bus and an Iowa barber gives haircuts to children in exchange for them reading stories to him.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Children’s and young people’s reading: a round-up of recent news and articles

Undy School Y1 Reading JungleIt’s ages since my last reading news update, and there’s lots to catch up with. What a lovely picture to illustrate it all: the fabulous year 1 reading jungle in Undy School Monmouthshire.

First, an important campaign to get all 11 year-olds reading well by 2025. There’s useful background data in The Reading Lives of 8 to 11 year-olds 2005-2013.

Other new research tells us:

All these recent articles are well worth checking out:

There have been many calls recently for more inclusive children’s books. An event intended to turn discussion into action has just been announced.

Finally, there are some great books on the UKLA Book Award longlists.