Why should children read?
Reading lies at the heart of the curriculum and by improving the reading skills of our children, we are improving their chances of success as they progress through school and into higher education and the world of work.
Reading exposes children to an increasingly wider vocabulary and models how language can be used effectively in writing. Through reading, pupils come to an understanding of how stories work and how they can structure their own work, whether writing a story or a piece of non-fiction.
Reading increases knowledge and experience, but also opens up new worlds; a parallel universe where new lands can be discovered; whether escaping through the wardrobe to Narnia, falling down a rabbit hole into Wonderland, travelling through a portal in a derelict church to the fantasy world of Elidor or slicing a portal through time and space into Mulefa.
How can parents support children in their reading?
At Valley Gardens Middle School we encourage our children to read for pleasure and are always exploring new ways to develop and extend their reading. Some children read extensively and habitually with little or no encouragement needed. Some children need a little more support, so how can parents help?
- It is never too early or too late to read with your child, either reading aloud to each other, or reading in parallel (using two copies of a book, or using shared downloads of a text on a reading app) and discussing aspects of the story: plot development, use of setting; development of characterisation.
- Model good reading habits; be seen reading, enjoying and discussing a book.
- Create a time when technological devices are put to one side and the family focus is on reading.
- Buy or borrow books that interest them – fiction or non-fiction.
- Have books in the home, or visit a library.
- Talk to your children about the books they are reading. If your child is reluctant to read, give incentives to finish books (some might call this bribery and there’s nothing wrong with that!).
- Make sure your child carries a reading book in their school bag at all times and monitor how often they change it.
Click here for ideas and resources from The Open University Research Rich Pedagogies.
What do we do at school to encourage children to read?
At school, pupils regularly read in registration and talk to staff about the books they read. This may be as a private reading session, or as a whole class reading text. We have invested heavily in the sets of texts available for whole class reading and regularly ask for feedback on the texts from staff and children. A list of registration reads is available here.
Sometimes lessons start with an opportunity to read, or pupils might be asked to read as part of their ‘responding to feedback’ time in lessons. We also keep track of pupils’ reading habits through the reading record section of our pupil planner. These are referred to in fortnightly Library lessons which the children have as part of their English provision. The expectation is that pupils read daily at home, supported by parents, and a record of this is kept and checked in school on a regular basis. A copy of our Home Reading Guidance, which has been sent out to parents, is available here.
In English, staff regularly talk to pupils about the books they are reading and ask for recommendations for other pupils. Homework might focus on a book review, which they share with the class, research on an author or the development of a reading anthology, which forms the basis of an extended homework over a half term.
In school we have recently developed the library and have expanded the variety of books available; both fiction and non-fiction. The Library is open to children at lunchtime and we are hoping to extend this provision to after school in the coming term. In lessons, the variety of texts types and genres is extensive and we are confident that children are regularly introduced to high quality, challenging literature.
We have recently subscribed to the Accelerated Reader programme and are delivering this to a selection of children to help them to develop independent reading practice. You can learn more about Accelerated Reader here.
As part of our extra-curricular provision, we have a popular book club which meets regularly. Pupils read and discuss books they have read and we have increased the book-club texts with the support of donations from Friends of Valley Gardens. We also regularly host the Scholastic Book Fair and join live author events facilitated through First Class Supply agency, The Bound bookshop in Whitley Bay and Seven Stories.
As a school, We are involved in a number of reading initiatives, including the BookBuzz programme and the Reciprocal Reading programme, in partnership with the Fischer Family Trust. We are also working closely with Whitley Bay High School to develop our transition programme through reading and forging closer links through our library provision, peer mentor programmes and in-school visits.