Professor Teresa Cremin, Professor of Education (Literacy) at The Open University, takes a look at the role Reading for Pleasure plays in children's literacy, both in and beyond the classroom.
As the academic year gets underway again, it is timely to explore the key role Reading for Pleasure (RfP) plays in children’s literacy and in overall attainment. Governments around the world are now paying attention to RfP as a core strand of supporting literacy and reading attainment and Ofsted is looking to see evidence of a rich and wide reading curriculum.
Research shows that some of the significant benefits of children’s reading for pleasure include:
It is, therefore, no surprise that developing a love of reading is officially recognised as being essential to children’s education.
As a society, we must continue to ensure children have access to a rich range of reading material both inside and outside of school.
The National Literacy Trust recently reported that whilst many children read and enjoyed reading more during lockdown, those children and young people without access to books (due to the closure of schools and libraries) had seen a negative effect on their ability to read and their motivation to read for enjoyment.
There are many ways in which educational practitioners and parents can nurture a love of reading in children. In fact, the Open University’s Reading for Pleasure website is packed with practical tips and ideas for how to ignite and inspire children’s desire to read.
Why not try some of these ideas to encourage the children in your life to read more and enjoy the wonderful world of storytelling:
One of the ways that schools are showcasing their commitment to RfP is by developing physical spaces for reading communities. Many have refurbished their libraries, and some even purchased double-decker buses, tents, sheds, tree houses and caravans to deck out! Spaces have been furnished with cushions, carpets and sofas to enrich classroom reading areas.
These often-colourful spaces indicate to parents, governors, Ofsted inspectors and the children, that the school values reading. However, it is vital to fill these special reading areas with a rich array of texts and to ensure there are ample opportunities for children and teachers to engage in informal ‘book blether’ in these spaces.
Teachers’ Reading Groups are a fantastic way of staying up-to-date with reading for pleasure. These groups provide free CPD for teachers, teaching assistants, early years professionals, librarians and others to enrich their understanding of reading for pleasure (RfP) and how to support children as readers. To date, The Open University and the UK Literacy Association have supported 300 Teachers’ Reading Groups in England and groups in Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Dubai and Pakistan.
This article has been adapted from Professor Cremin’s blog on www.books2all published on 8 September 2021.