Tag archives: research

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!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Children’s and young people’s reading – news, research and a great quote

IMG_1531I always love seeing displays of book-related work when I visit schools to give inset. This is from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Malmesbury.

Here’s a round-up of recent news about children’s reading.

A new survey shows that reading aloud to young children may change brain activation in very positive ways.

The neuroscience of reading is attracting lots of attention. It’s worth looking at ‘How children learn to read’.

Two important new critiques question the emphasis on phonics in teaching reading and the lack of support for other methods, both available here.

In heart-warming news, a girl of eight has won an impressive victory for gender equality in children’s book and marketing.

Edutopia has drawn up a useful list of thirty-seven ways to help children learn to read, all tips from teachers and other practitioners.

It’s fascinating, and rather frightening, to see the impact of skipping reading homework. The article includes ideas for creating a reading habit in class.

Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham explores why children lose interest in reading as they get older.

An interesting IFS report sets out the links between childhood reading skills and adult outcomes in terms of employment, wages and health.

Finally, though not news at all, here’s Walt Disney on why reading is valuable: ‘There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.’

Friday, 27 March 2015

Children’s reading – recent news and articles

IMG_2114Here is my latest round-up of news, research and articles about children’s and young people’s reading, plus a glimpse of my picture book shelf.

Good to see support for book clubs and references to the importance of reading for pleasure in Reading: Supporting Higher Standards in Schools, but the recommendation that all Y3 children be given library cards has raised eyebrows and hackles, in view of widespread public library closures. School libraries are inexplicably not mentioned. In response, the latest edition of Books for Keeps has a powerful editorial about importance of librarians in promoting reading.

Primary staff in particular will be interested in Michael Rosen’s blog Reading for Pleasure and Understanding – Govt Style.

There have been headlines this month about secondary pupils shunning difficult books. Little attention has been paid to the fact that the research only relates to Accelerated Reader data. School librarian John Iona’s blog is well worth a look.

Scholastic has produced its annual report about children’s reading. Although American, there is lots of relevant information here. This infographic shows the most powerful predictors of reading frequency. Some important findings, including the value of time for independent reading during the school day.

I like this unusual (and well referenced) infographic on the benefits of reading.

New research shows how much bright pupils from poor backgrounds miss out in relation to their wealthier peers. Reading for pleasure is one of the factors proven to make a difference. In the light of this it’s interesting to learn that poorer parents read with their  children (and help with their homework) as much as wealthier ones.  How very sad though that few parents overall read bedtime stories to their children. Lack of time and lack of confidence are big factors.

I was fascinated to read that human brains see words as pictures. This has implications in terms of appropriate support for children with reading difficulties.

For anyone who has not yet seen it, here is a useful children’s literary calendar.

Finally, if you haven’t already, you might like to sign the Save the Children Read On Get On petition.