This is a thought-provoking discussion of the importance of reading for pleasure and how we can all help promote a culture of book-reading at school and at home.

Firstly, the facts:

  1. One in five parents does not spend any time reading with their children and over half of those surveyed spent less than an hour a week doing it
  2. The difference in reading ability between a child who reads for pleasure for 30 minutes a day and those who never read was more than a year
    —  The OECD report into reading in 2002.

As Sealy points out, “the link between reading for pleasure and reading proficiency is a correlation. The research does not, cannot, join the dots and prove that the one is causative of the other. But given the wealth of evidence of close correlation, it is a fairly safe bet that there are few things more likely to engender educational success than making sure that the children we teach enjoy reading and choose to do so independently.

So, how can we help our children discover the joy of reading?

  1. Choose texts carefully
    What a child reads may depend on the context. For example, a class reader may well be a little more challenging than a book they choose to read (or reread) at home at bedtime.
  2. Nurture the ‘inner reader’
    “They need immersing in a sea of stories, to learn that stories can feed the soul by making us laugh, cry, tremble and be amazed.” … and “they need to know the thrill of desperately wanting to read on and on while at the same time never wanting the story to end.” says Sealy.
  3. Become a book whisperer  
    Sealy urges teachers and practitioners to build a positive relationship with books and a culture of reading. She writes:
    “We need to help children build an emotional relationship with books and that means trying to replicate, as far as one can in a classroom with 30 children, the experience of snuggling up with a trusted adult and a wonderful book….”

  4. Guide children’s choices
    This is tricky, as it requires a fair amount of knowledge or research, but being “proactive in helping children choose what they take home to read” can reap huge rewards. Find out what works, take recommendations from friends, peers, other children, librarians, newspapers.

Where to find book recommendations?

Good reads is really useful, and the more children use it the better the recommendations become.

Love reading 4 kids is also a good source of book recommendations.

Useful links for more

Clare Sealy’s full article in the TES

The OECD 2002 report

The Govt 2012 report