THE IMPORTANCE OF READING
Reading is a skill that most of us take for granted, yet is one that is essential for being able to get on in life. As a child grows up, being able to read well not only enables them to discover new facts and to learn at school, but also opens them up to a world of new ideas, stories and opportunities. As research shows children who read for pleasure will achieve more than those that don’t in later life. All the decisions we make as a school on reading are based on research – we are well informed and up to the minute. All our staff are committed to ensuring that all children become independent and fluent readers during their time at our school. We want our children to enjoy books as much as we do!
At Warden Hill we are passionate about books and this love of reading is shared with all pupils. As you walk around the school, you are instantly struck by engaging reading displays and inviting book corners. Our libraries and our annual investment in new and exciting books demonstrates our commitment to reading and developing a culture of reading for pleasure. We also invest in a ‘staff library’ in an effort to introduce the adults in our school to new literature, both adult and children’s books, and to model the good reading behaviours we wish to instil in our pupils.
Our Headteacher really does lead by example and all children are aware of her love of reading, which she regularly discusses in assemblies and backs up with an office full of books! We value the importance of ensuring that our children are exposed to a wealth of books. Therefore, we have carefully selected books that represent different abilities, cultures, beliefs, appropriate age content as well as offering challenge to readers in all year groups in both poetry, fiction and non-fiction alike. We have created, a progressive list of books for all classes with Class Reads, recommended books for class libraries, Guided Reading texts as well as titles of books used during our fabulous Take One Book Week. Offering a diverse Reading curriculum ensures that we are supporting all our children in finding titles that they can read and connect with on some level while affirming their own cultural identifies and hopefully developing important, positive insights about others.
The joy of reading
We work hard to ensure this joy of reading extends beyond the classroom and support, promote and value the contributions that parents and carers make to their child’s reading at home. We enjoy taking our children to the Cheltenham Literature Festival each year and organise visiting authors to talk to our pupils and further ignite their interest in books. A highlight of our year is World Book Day, which we celebrate in style! One other element to our wider curriculum is ‘Take One Book Week’. This gives each teacher and class the opportunity to delve deeper into a book and explore exciting links with other subjects.
Progression of reading through the school
Our love of reading begins from the very first day a child begins at our school; all our Reception children receive a book from us to welcome them to our school and begin their reading experience. Our structured approach to reading is carefully designed to ensure the best results for our children. As the children move through the infants, phonics remains a high priority and is taught daily. Daily guided reading sessions focus on higher order reading skills and the development of vocabulary. Children work through our fully decodable reading scheme and read frequently with an adult in school. As their reading progresses, we work on developing a pupil’s vocabulary and comprehension skills through structured through whole class guided reading sessions. Activities are carefully planned to ensure that reading stamina also develops as children progress through the school.
How could we encourage and inspire all readers even the reluctant ones to get into a good book?
We sat together as an English team and pondered this question. We knew from our research that if we could read to our children daily and ensure that the time spent doing this was to be between 15 – 30 mins we were onto a winner. Thus the introduction to the class novel was born. We emphasised the importance of this ringed fenced time during the day and the staff took it on board. They already knew how important it was to read to the children, but what we didn’t have was a progressive carefully selected set of books for each class for the year. So in the end we completely overhauled our school reading curriculum. We now have in place a diverse reading curriculum where the children will be able to be immersed different cultures and experiences, but above all of this, every child should now be able to ‘see’ themselves in the books too.
The class novels have all been chosen for their high quality and high interest to a range of readers. The fact that the class teacher is reading it to them means that even the lowest 20% of each class is whisked away and immersed in the stories between the pages. The impact has been huge – children asking parents to buy them the books or to use birthday money to buy the class novels too – and yes – even our hardest to reach children have been part of this book love!
Another way we foster reading for pleasure and oracy.
The children receive a Reading Journal task question that is to be completed at home in note form, ready for a discussion in class. The purpose behind this is to motivate and inspire the children in reading extracts of texts from books that they may not have come across. Maybe they’ll want to pick it up and read it! It’s been a real success with the Friday book chat really engaging all the children – all voices are heard and yet again it promotes the love of books.
Our children do not make the progress they do without a ‘team’ approach. Parents and our teaching team work closely together to ensure the very best outcomes for our pupils.