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Be a reading role model

August 16, 2021, 10:49 GMT+1
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  • James Schillemore explains why it is vital that you’re a reading role model if you want to reach reluctant readers...
Be a reading role model

With the recent lockdowns, technology has accelerated, and the draw of a good book is waning. Parents reach for their phones in many households, and children reach for their tablets rather than a good book

The recent EEF report showed that disadvantaged pupils were up to seven months behind peers due to covid highlighting that post lockdown, it’s never been more critical to reach reluctant readers.

To foster a love of reading, children need to enjoy it and now that pupils are back in the classroom, how can we engage those reluctant readers?

The gift of loving to read is one of the greatest gifts you can give a pupil. But getting every child in the class to the ‘enjoying reading’ stage is not always easy. But at our school, we’ve put some simple initiatives in place to help.

Knowing their passion

In the same way, when we are teaching topics like maths, you know as a teacher that your success rates will be higher if pupils are engaged in something they are passionate about, and reading is no different.

Take time to discover each child’s interests. What are they passionate about? It could be that finding reading materials about Minecraft, for example, which will create interest and enjoyment for a hard-to-reach pupil.

Help them find suitable reading material about these subjects; capturing their interest is the first step to ensuring reading becomes a joy.

Role models

In our class, we take time to read, and that means me too. It’s about making reading a priority, and no matter how busy my day is, we will all take the time to read. The children enjoy getting lost in the pages of their book. Then we come back together to discuss what we have been reading.

Getting parents on board

Covid stopped us sending reading diaries home, so we now use MarvellousMe reading log on parents’ mobile phones to engage parents in their child’s reading at home. I get some great insight data in a spreadsheet, no more wading through reading logbooks.

I can see how many times a child has read and what they are reading, and parents love it as they can complete the log in a few seconds and tick that jobs done. It’s also keeping parents in the loop with what counts as reading; it doesn’t always mean sitting down with a novel, so here are my tips.

  • Find their passion: Whether it’s a computer game, an animal or a sport, this is how you will ‘hook’ them on reading.
  • Variety matters: Forget about results for a minute; let pupils choose what reading materials interest them. Magazines, sports pages, or novels, it all counts.
  • Review and recommend: Talk about books in class, review books and get the children to recommend books to their peers.
  • Involve parents: Get a reading log that is easy for parents to complete to see the value in enjoying reading.

Results don’t matter

Of course, they do, but when trying to get pupils to enjoy reading, all reading counts – you need to forget about results for a minute. Whether it’s a comic, magazine, or sports pages, it counts if a child is reading.

Help children prepare for days out, researching on the internet perhaps and making notes of what they want to see at an attraction.

It’s great to get back in the classroom in early September with children enthusiastic about reading and what they’ve read over the summer.

James Schillemore is the Lower Phase Leader and English Lead at Stamshaw Junior School, Portsmouth, Hampshire.