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Special initiative: Reading for Pleasure

‘Reading for Pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s future success’. (OECD, 2002)Four children reading books

OU research in this area has shaped a Reading for Pleasure (RfP) movement which seeks to enable practitioners to enrich their knowledge and practice, schools to create cultures of reading and stronger links with parents and young readers who benefit from being members of vibrant reading communities. 

Click on the tabs to find out more about the diverse initiatives created from the original Teachers as Readers project and subsequent research.



Reading and Writing for Pleasure: New Research

This three-year research project funded by the Mercers’ Company examined the approaches that most effectively nurture children's reading and writing for pleasure. An extensive literature review was undertaken of research in these areas, and data was collected from six London based programmes that work with children and young people. The OU team combined these two pieces of work to create a Reading and Writing for Pleasure: Framework for Practice.




Reading for Pleasure website

The Teachers as Readers (TaRs) research project was a two phase OU/UKLA project which explored children’s and teachers’ reading lives and established effective ways to support Reading for Pleasure (RfP).

The OU RfP website is informed by the TaRs project and aims to support a vibrant professional community of teachers, student teachers, librarians, teaching assistants and English subject leaders.

The research found that in order to effectively nurture children’s RfP, they needed to develop:

  1. Knowledge of children’s literature and other texts
  2. Knowledge of children’s reading practices
  3. A Reading for Pleasure pedagogy
    • social reading environment.
    • reading aloud,
    • informal book talk and recommendations,
    • and independent reading time
  4. As Reading Teachers: teachers who read and readers who teach
  5. Reading communities which are interactive and reciprocal.

So that teachers and professionals don’t miss out on these new resources, they can sign up to a free monthly
newsletter to keep connected and up to date.


Whole School Development: Reading Schools Programme

Since 2018, the OU team have worked with over 250 schools through the Reading Schools Programme designed to impact on all children, in particular the less engaged readers and those who are in the lowest performing 20%. The programme enables whole school review of staff knowledge and practice and children’s attitudes to reading. The staff team are then supported to develop a focused action plan. This guides leaders to think about their intent, implementation and impact, aligned with current EEF guidance

This work has resulted in many more teachers and children co-creating vibrant and engaged reading communities. The extraordinary and inspiring journeys of our graduating schools are charted in a rich bank of case studies which are accessible to all participating schools.

If you want to create a culture of reading, enrich your school’s practice, make stronger links with parents, and ensure all staff are well positioned to nurture life-long readers, then the year-long Reading Schools Programme could be for you.  

The Reading Schools Programme draws on the original OU Teachers as Readers (TaRs) research (Cremin et al., 2014), subsequent research studies and a partnership project undertaken with schools from the Aspire Educational Trust, Cheshire and Birmingham Diocese Multi-Academy Trust (2018-2019). The programme uses the TaRs research findings, resources from the OU RfP website, and the Education Endowment Foundation’s Guide to Implementation to support schools in turning their aspirations for children’s RfP into a long-term, sustainable reality.

‘One of the characteristics that distinguishes effective and less-effective schools, in addition to what they implement, is how they put those new approaches into practice.’ (EEF, 2017).

The support for school leadership built into the programme and the accompanying case studies focus on the ‘why,  ‘what’ and ‘how’ of fostering volitional reading across a whole school in line with the Ofsted Education Inspection Framework of 2019 onwards. The programme documents the professional process and practice of implementation, enabling you to implement evidence-informed RfP pedagogy. 


Teachers' Reading Groups

The OU and the United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA) facilitate over 100 Teachers’ Reading Groups annually. These groups provide FREE evidence–based CPD for teachers, teaching assistants, early years’ professionals, librarians and others with an interest in developing RfP in schools.

The aims of the groups are:

  1. To foster children's reading for pleasure through supporting teachers’ /members’ own RfP and research-informed practice;
  2. To support the profession by building a professional community around RfP locally and online;
  3. To share teachers’ resultant development work on the OU RfP website. 

Each group receives a book box containing a diverse and rich variety of new children’s literature and texts, with the support of UKLA. Through discussion and ‘book blether’ teachers can read and recommend texts and also reflect on their own practice guided by OU research. Finally, these reflections are posted on the RfP web space in the form of an ‘Example of Practice’; a mini case study to inspire others. All members who do so are given a certificate by the OU in recognition of their contribution.

TRG’s take place across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as internationally. Countries involved (in the past or currently) include: Australia, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, France and Switzerland. TRGs are also offered to Coram Beanstalk, a charity which helps provides reading volunteers in schools.

Anyone with an interest is welcome to join, click here to find your local Teachers' Reading group.


Reading at Home Support

During the Covid-19 period, the OU in collaboration with teachers created new resources to support readers at home. These were informed by OU research on building communities of readers and Reading for Pleasure (RfP) pedagogy: Reading aloud, Time to read as a family and Book chat.

The resources were shared with parents, school staff, reading hubs and governors through the RfP website, newsletter and social media campaigns.

  • Top Ten Storytime’s
  • Sharing the Love of Reading
  • Supporting Readers at Home poster
  • Examples of Practice

To access these resources and more, please visit Supporting Reading at Home


Value of digital reading for children's literacy

Today’s children read on paper and screen and many wonder: which is better, paper or digital? This is something that many have tried to answer, but are we in fact asking the wrong question? The RfP has in partnership with OU/BBC Team and with internal support from ECYS, developed a video resource that summarises current research on children's digital reading.

The animation video below highlights the added value of digital reading for children's literacy and summarises key evidence-based criteria that make a digital book suitable for a child. We hope that the video will be of interest to teachers, literacy researchers and practitioners, librarians and publishers, as well as caregivers.


To read more about the research behind this video and access more resources, check out the OU Connect website.



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