Tag archives: research

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.

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.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Recent news, reports and articles about children’s and young people’s reading

childrens-book-week-2015posters-chris-riddellIt’s Children’s Book Week, promoted beautifully by new Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, so an excellent time for one of my periodic round-ups of children’s reading news and articles.

If you haven’t seen it yet, the latest National Literacy Trust report on children’s and young people’s reading is full of important data. There is much to celebrate, in particular that reading for enjoyment, which we know to be vital for literacy attainment, is rising. There are causes for concern too, for example nearly one child in four thinks their parents don’t care if they read and the gender gap in reading enjoyment has increased.

The Read On, Get On campaign has warned that the poorest children in the UK, particularly boys, lag behind in language skills and without interventions might never catch up. This has big implications for literacy.

‘Why your reading, as a teacher, makes a difference to your pupils’ is a useful article by Jane Jackson of BookSpace. I certainly agree with her message: we must value every child’s individual interests and choices.

I was also interested in this piece about how a US school got everyone excited about reading by jettisoning their reading programme. Every teacher and every student was set a simple goal: read twenty books in one semester. ‘Any book. Any kind. If you hate the book — STOP READING IT.’

Do have a look at this too: ‘Would you censor a child’s reading?’ It’s valuable and thought-provoking, as this snippet demonstrates: ‘Are our concerns logical, or simply knee-jerk outrage?’

I very much like school librarian Caroline Roche’s slideshow for 6th formers on the importance of fiction (even for mathematicians).

Amanda Craig caught my eye with an article on what she calls (rightly, in my view) the present golden age of children’s literature. Her comparisons with previous such ages are very illuminating. I love her contention that children’s books ‘give a child a lever with which to prise open the world’.

Lastly, I came across another great quote just today, from teenage novelist Keith Gray: ‘Books are for life, not just for homework.’ Absolutely!