There is a wealth of research and anecdotal evidence that demonstrates the positive effect reading for pleasure has on children’s academic and social development. Research has shown that reading for pleasure has a bigger impact on children’s cognitive development than their parent’s level of education and their socioeconomic background. However, in England the percentage of children that report reading for pleasure is significantly lower than those in many other countries. How can we promote reading for enjoyment for children?
Consider how your book corner or school library represents the children who make use of them. The Cooperative Children’s Book Centre has been tracking the level of diversity in children’s literature since 1985. In 2017 they reported that a mere 9% of children’s books published in that year featured black characters in a significant role. This is clearly a misrepresentation of our multicultural society. It is important that we consider the literature offerings we are making available to children how these reflect the religions/races/cultures/families of 21st century society and our school communities. As practitioners we need to be self-reflective and consider if the books we are providing reflective of those that read them to ensure children are able to self-identify with them and so that they promote their sense of self-worth. This will encourage children to read to read for pleasure.
Additionally, 20% of the pupils in primary schools are exposed to another language at home. How are we valuing these languages? The use of dual language texts or books in a child’s home language can be useful to welcome new EAL learners into our classrooms demonstrate how their home language is valued and encourage these pupils to read for pleasure.
I have created a list of diverse literature links and resources for educators here.
Do reading opportunities on offer reflect 21st century life for children? Research has demonstrated that magazines, websites and emails are among most common choices of material for children to read. Can we increase the scope of texts on offer to encourage children to read for pleasure? E-readers, tablets, blogs, comics, magazines, child-friendly newspapers and even song lyrics used to complement your poetry offerings can promote children’s engagement in reading. However, it is important we remain mindful of the quality and age appropriateness of literature we expose children to in schools.
We need to provide literature that is related to children’s interests whilst be
Opportunities to read for enjoyment
If we want children to read for pleasure, we need to build in time and opportunities for them to read solely for enjoyment. Although the school day can be busy we need to ensure time is planned for so that children can enjoy reading.
We also need to encourage, and devote time to, children sharing books they have enjoyed. Recent research in Australia highlighted that children having time to talk about texts they have enjoyed was a factor that predetermined their reported enjoyment of reading. Encouraging children to talk about texts allows them to refine their likes and dislikes, encourages them to read more as they are recommended books by their peers and also encourages and the shared and social aspects of reading which can contribute to a whole-school reading culture.
Use of libraries
Libraries and librarians can be a fantastic way to encourage reading for pleasure for all ages. Having a school library is a brilliant way to showcase the r
Reading role models
Children need to see adults enjoying reading. One way schools can make adults enjoyment of reading visible is by creating displays that showcase the books staff are currently reading or that they enjoyed reading when they were younger. This helps establish a whole school culture of readers and can prompt discussion around books and reading. Adults also need to share books with children that are above the level of those which they can read independently. This helps model the skills of reading, develops children’s vocabulary and helps foster a love of stories and reading. Additionally, the use of a ‘buddy system’ where older and younger children are paired together and given time to share and talk about books is also an effective way of children seeing reading role models.