Tag archives: research

Friday, 7 July 2017

School libraries and librarians and their importance

new milton bus

This is the fabulous library at New Milton Primary School.

I believe passionately in the value of school libraries and librarians. In the last couple of years a number of schools have made their librarians redundant, a truly shocking act that will have long-term consequences for children’s reading and wider learning. Budgets for libraries have diminished drastically in all too many schools, again something that will have a big negative effect.

Last week saw the publication of a valuable literature review of school libraries, exploring current provision in the UK and evidence of school library impact. It demonstrates clearly the benefits of an effective school library and librarian in relation to reading skills and enjoyment; wider attainment; attitudes to learning; resilience; independence; self-esteem. There is a useful run-down of the elements of good school libraries. (Librarians come top of the list.)

For those who haven’t seen it, this is an excellent outline of the role of the school librarian by Alison Tarrant, School Librarian of the Year 2016.

On Principals Know: School Librarians are the Heart of the School several US school principals talk about the importance of school libraries and librarians.

Here is author Cathy Cassidy on the transformative impact of school libraries and school librarians: ‘Where there is a school library – and that mythical, magical creature, a school librarian – there is hope .…. School libraries are awesome. They are a refuge for the lost, the lonely; a haven for the bookworm; a hotbed of creativity, revolution and adventure. School libraries often contain book clubs and cake and laughter, as well as shelf after shelf of brilliant stories, dreams, other worlds. They teach young people how to find their wings and fly, and without them we’d be lost.’

There are links to more articles and reports on my previous blogs on school libraries.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

A round-up of recent news and articles about children’s and young people’s reading

manchester girl readingI’ve always loved the Reading Girl statue by Giovanni Ciniselli in Manchester Central Library. The perfect illustration for my latest haul of children’s reading news.

The National Literacy Trust’s important annual literacy survey has just been published. Great to see that rates of reading for pleasure continue to rise. Sadly, though, 40% of 8-18 year-olds enjoy reading little or not at all, with significantly more boys than girls in this camp, far more secondary age students than key stage 2 pupils, and more pupils from white ethnic backgrounds than other ethnic backgrounds. Pupils who enjoy reading were found, not surprisingly, to spend more time reading, to read more widely, to have higher reading scores and better comprehension.

Reading with children starting in infancy gives lasting literacy boost. Shared book-reading that begins soon after birth may translate into higher language and vocabulary skills before elementary school, according to US research.

Children’s reading improves if parents have positive views about their potential and are given ways to support reading effectively at home. A new survey shows big benefits to funding parental support for reading, especially for boys.

There are lots of excellent tips for raising a reader from the New York Times.

Do listen to Dr Vivienne Smith talking about why reading is important, not least for empathy and mental health.

Author and former teacher Jo Cotterill has great ideas for developing reading for pleasure. I also recommend this Scottish Book Trust blog on the subject.

A tweet by year 5 teacher Lauren Butterworth demonstrates how important it is to model reading behaviour: ‘The biggest influence on reading for pleasure in my class has been me reading – the kids love asking me questions.’

‘The essential components of a KS2 reading scheme’ is full of valuable pointers. The final essential on the list? A teacher who loves reading.

One of my greatest joys at primary school was when teachers read to us, and I loved it especially when it happened outside. A recent article explores the value of taking reading lessons into the open air.

Many primary schools are moving away from the carousel guided reading model. For teachers looking for guidance on this ‘How I teach whole class reading’ is useful, as is ‘ How to switch to whole class guided reading’.

Boys’ reading attainment is frequently addressed. A recent article suggests that girls’ reading problems often fall beneath the radar.

An anonymous English teacher ponders on the implications of the lack of reading by English teachers. It’s well worth reading the comments too, and this response from another English teacher.

New research demonstrates that children’s learning and comprehension do not differ between printed and digital books. Comprehension is dependent on content, not medium.

‘Inappropriate content’ is a useful discussion between an author and a bookseller about why age banding children’s books is unhelpful.

Last but definitely not least, an inspiring animation from We Love Reading.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Children’s reading news – a summer update

reading mugs
Another round-up of recent reading news and articles, illustrated by my lovely reading related mugs, all given to me by my equally reading besotted daughter.

An important new study on teaching reading through synthetic phonics has found that this helps children from poor backgrounds and EAL children, but has no long-term benefits for the average child.

More new research tells us that boys who live with books earn more as adults.

Since my last blog on reading the National Literacy Trust has published its annual report on children and young people’s reading.  Reading enjoyment is going up, but the gulf between enjoyment at primary and secondary levels is sadly growing, as is that between boys and girls. In his foreword Director Jonathan Douglas points out the clear correlation between attainment and reading enjoyment, frequency and attitudes. ‘The more that can be done to develop and sustain children’s intrinsic motivation to read throughout their school journey, the more success they will enjoy both academically and in future life.’

Author Nicola Morgan has created a list of the benefits of reading for pleasure.

If you can’t imagine things, how can you learn? is fascinating. Significant numbers of people cannot conjure up mental images, and this impacts, among other things, on their ability to learn to read, on comprehension, on retaining and recalling information and on grasping abstract concepts.

A report about the age at which children start formal education identifies some key issues in relation to literacy. New Zealand research shows that the early introduction of formal learning approaches to literacy does not improve children’s reading development, and may be damaging. ‘By 11 there was no difference in reading ability level between the two groups, but the children who started at 5 developed less positive attitudes to reading, and showed poorer text comprehension than those children who had started later.’ A separate study of reading achievement in 15 year olds across 55 countries showed that there was no significant association between reading achievement and school entry age.

It’s worth reading a head of English on the importance of schools making time for reading. ‘Schools being all about education, you’d think reading would be at the centre of the curriculum and school life. Wrong’ says Dr Kornel Kossuth.

Those interested in literacy across the curriculum may be interested in this article on literacy’s role in boosting maths outcomes.

It’s always good to hear young people’s perspectives on reading. I found Why teenagers are resistant to e-readers extremely interesting.

That article, along with many I’ve quoted in blogs about children reading, was published on the Guardian children’s books website. It’s always been a source of invaluable information and inspiration. Sad news indeed that it’s closing.

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.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Family literacy – evidence on the benefits of family involvement in children’s reading

learning to readOver the years I have delivered many dozens of family literacy workshops. The photo is from one of them. I’m delighted to be giving a course on family literacy tomorrow. Here is some of the research evidence I will be drawing on.

The most accurate predictor of a pupil’s achievement is not parental income or social status but the extent to which parents are able to create a home environment that encourages learning.
source: National Literacy Trust

In the primary years parental involvement in a child’s learning has more impact on attainment than the school itself.
source: Campaign for Learning

Parental involvement in their child’s reading has been found to be the most important determinant of language and emergent literacy.
source: A Bus, M van Ijzendoorn and A Pellegrini, Joint Book Reading Makes for Success in Learning to Read

The earlier parents become involved in their children’s literacy practices, the more profound the results and the longer-lasting the effects.
source: R L Mullis etc, Early literacy outcomes and parent involvement

Parental involvement and engagement and parents’ reading frequency are major predictors of children’s reading frequency and enjoyment.
source: Kids and Family Reading

Parents who promote a view that reading is a valuable and worthwhile activity have children who are motivated to read for pleasure.
source: L Baker and D Scher, Beginning Readers’ Motivation for Reading in Relation to Parental Beliefs and Home Reading Experiences

Young people who get a lot of encouragement to read from their mother or father are more likely to perceive themselves as readers, to enjoy reading, to read frequently and to have positive attitudes towards reading compared to young people who do not get any encouragement to read from their mother or father. Children are twice as likely to read outside of class if they are encouraged to read by their mother or father a lot.
source: National Literacy Trust

15-year-olds whose parents have the lowest occupational status but who are highly engaged in reading obtain higher average reading scores than students whose parents have high or medium occupational status but who report to be poorly engaged in reading.
source: Reading for Change

Training parents to teach their children reading skills can be more than twice as effective as encouraging parents to listen to their children read.
source: Review of Best Practice in Parental Engagement: Practitioners Summary

All in all, a very compelling case for doing everything possible to engage parents, carers and the wider family in supporting their children’s reading.