Tag archives: reading research

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.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Children’s and young people’s reading – recent reports and research

IMG_3461The latest PISA report was published last month. These are some key national and international findings relating to reading:

  • The UK is now 13th in OECD in terms of 15 year-olds’ reading scores.
  • However pupils in all countries of the UK have more negative attitudes towards reading than the OECD average.
  • Less than 1 in 10 students in OECD countries is able to differentiate facts and opinions.
  • Girls significantly outperform boys in reading on average across OECD countries. The gender gap in the UK is less than the OECD average.

The World Bank and UN report that 90% of children in the world’s poorest countries cannot read a basic book by the age of 10 (whereas in rich countries only 9% cannot do so by the same age).

According to the International Literacy Association’s latest ‘What’s Hot in Literacy’ report the top five most critical issues in literacy education, as selected by respondents, are

  1. Building early literacy skills through a balanced approach that combines both foundational and language comprehension instruction
  2. Determining effective instructional strategies for struggling readers
  3. Increasing equity and opportunity for all learners
  4. Increasing professional learning and development opportunities for
    practicing educators
  5. Providing access to high-quality, diverse books and content

National Literacy Trust research shows that more than 380,000 children in the UK do not own a single book. It matters, because children who own books are six times more likely to read above the level expected for their age and nearly three times more likely to enjoy reading.

Children’s publisher Egmont has produced a paper on trends and challenges in reading for pleasure, based on extensive research. It identifies three key things that create an environment that discourages reading for pleasure:

  • School: the curriculum makes reading a subject to learn, not something to do for fun
  • Screens: increasing time on screen means less time for reading and other activities
  • Parents: lack of awareness that they need to read to their children beyond the point at which the child can read independently

The benefits of parents reading to children are of course well known. New research proves that children have sharper vocabulary skills by age 3 when parents read with them early on.

A recent study concludes that there is little or no evidence that teaching phonics improves reading.

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Recent research and articles about children’s reading

book boat - St Andrews CE Primary Kettering

Many thanks to St Andrews CE Primary Kettering for permission to use this photo of their lovely book boats. Such a great idea, and perfect to illustrate my latest round-up of children’s reading news and articles.

Dawn Finch has written a valuable piece on the meaning and importance of reading for pleasure and ways to nurture it in libraries and schools.

Teacher Heather Wright suggest five ways to instil a love of reading in primary schools.

In another article she posits that reading for pleasure should be at the heart of the curriculum, and that quality books are a must, not a luxury.

‘Reading Corners: Effective?’ explores the value of reading corners in the context of creating a culture of reading.

A new study finds that a home environment that supports language development in early childhood predicts children’s readiness to learn in pre-school, which in turn predicts academic skills at 10-11.

Research suggests that language development in infancy is influenced differently by well-educated mothers and fathers, even though they read to their young toddlers in broadly similar ways.

‘Why Some People Become Lifelong Readers’, an article from the USA, suggests that much depends on how parents present the activity of reading to their children.

Recent research shows that targeted reading interventions in small groups can help to close the disadvantage gap for primary pupils, while whole-class approaches had little impact.

‘Children’s Reading With Digital Books: Past Moving Quickly to the Future’ is a useful survey of research on the topic, with suggestions for good practice.

An Australian article explores ways to get the most out of silent reading in schools.

The latest ‘Reflecting Realities’ survey into ethnic representation in UK children’s literature has been released, and it paints a depressing picture.

Jennifer Holder of Liverpool Learning Partnership has put together a useful padlet to support educators in exploring issues of diversity and inclusion in children’s and YA books.

Mat Tobin has produced some great tips on building a diverse and multicultural bookshelf and on becoming a ‘culturally responsive teacher’.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Summer 2019 children’s reading news update

Cowell's listCressida Cowell was pronounced Children’s Laureate this week. This is her very impressive and important charter – the perfect illustration for my latest children’s reading news update. (You may also like to see the ideas and tips of all her Laureate predecessors about how to children into bookworms.)

The latest National Literacy Trust report on children’s reading shows that reading enjoyment, reading engagement and levels of daily reading are all slightly down.

Recent research tells us that many parents are often too busy or tired to read their children a bedtime story and rely on technology instead, including Alexa.

Hungry Little Minds, which provides guidance on supporting babies’ and young children’s’ learning, including language and literacy, was launched this month

A recent speech to early years practitioners about Ofsted’s approach to the early years contained lots about supporting spoken language and reading.

It’s worth reading ‘Developing pupils’ vocabulary is about more than words’.

‘4 steps to ensure pupils read for pleasure’ has good ideas on helping primary children fall in love with books and reading. I would add using the library.

Teacher and reading champion Jon Biddle’s reading questions will be great for stimulating discussion in classrooms and libraries.

According to a study into what works best for struggling readers in elementary schools, whole class and whole school approaches and one-to-one tutoring are highly effective; technology-supported adaptive instruction is not.

New research suggests that reading aloud is one of the best things secondary English teachers can do to support comprehension and close the advantage gap.

The Education Endowment Federation has published new guidance to help secondary schools improve literacy in all subject areas.

‘Inference: why comprehension is not just about vocabulary and knowledge’ explores ways to teach comprehension skills such as inference.

For inspiration, look at Andy McNab’s recollections about his journey into reading. He was 16 and fresh out of juvenile detention when he read his first book.

Finally, ‘If kids can’t read what they want in the summer, when can they?’ makes a passionate and well-informed case for children to read what they like.