Reading Connects - National Literacy Trust

Reading Connects
Building whole-school reading communities
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Finding ways to
engage students in
reading may be one
of the most effective
ways to leverage
social change.
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development’s Programme for International
Student Assessment (2002)
Early Reading Connects
Following the success of Reading Connects, we have developed an equivalent model to support practitioners
working with babies and children (birth to five).
Reading Connects is delivered by the National Literacy Trust on behalf of the Department for Children, Schools and Families. We would like to
thank the following individuals and organisations for their continued support in making Reading Connects such a success:
Arts Council England; Arts and Kids; Association of School and College Leaders; Association of Senior Children’s and Education Librarians;
Booktrust; Campaign for Learning; Centre for Literacy in Primary Education; Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals;
ContinYou; Department for Children, Schools and Families; English and Media Centre; Every Child a Reader; Learning and Teaching Scotland;
Michael Rosen; Museums, Libraries and Archives Council; Literacy Volunteers in Nottinghamshire; National Association of Advisers in English;
National Association for the Teaching of English; National Association of Head Teachers; National Literacy Association; National Strategies:
Primary and Secondary; Ofsted; The Poetry Society; Publishers Association; Qualifications and Curriculum Authority; Quality in Study Support;
The Reading Agency; Reading Matters; Read On – Write Away!; RED Culture; School Library Association; Training and Development Agency for
Schools; United Kingdom Literacy Association; Volunteer Reading Help.
This publication was written by Sarah Osborne. Thanks to all of the schools that have contributed ideas, case studies and photographs.
Thanks to the DCSF, the National Strategies, Julia Strong, Nayna Wood, Nick Batty and Sam Brookes for all their contributions.
Image credits: front cover - courtesy of Mile Oak Primary School. Pages 7, 14, 16, and 38 - courtesy of the DCSF. Pages 2 and 27 - photographer:
Sim Canetty-Clarke.
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Welcome to
Reading Connects
Congratulations, you are now a Reading Connects school! This handbook is divided into eight sections designed to
help you develop reading for pleasure across every strand of school life. Each section offers advice, practical ideas
and signposting to resources. Of course, it is not possible to develop every area at once. We suggest you complete
the audit to start with, as it will help you to identify which strands in the handbook you want to focus on first.
There is only so much information that we can include in this handbook. However, if you visit
www., you will find more practical ideas, resources, case studies and research related to
each of the strands below.
Building a whole-school reading community
– an overview by Sally Rundell
School library
The Reading Connects approach
Special interest groups
The Reading Connects audit
Whole-school vision, policy and strategy
Family involvement
Reading promotion
Community involvement
Reading events and groups
The reading calendar
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Building a
reading community
Sally Rundell, senior director for
literacy at the Primary National
Strategy, outlines how creating
a rich reading environment is an
essential part of the development
of children’s reading skills.
The Primary National Strategy is an enthusiastic partner
of Reading Connects. We have a common purpose:
to ensure all children become active, critical readers
and to promote reading for enjoyment for all. We see
these skills and attributes as being mutually reinforcing.
There is a vital connection between the development
of skills for reading, the development of personal
attitudes, the motivation to read and becoming an avid
lifelong reader.
The Primary Framework provides clear guidance on the
most effective pedagogies for teaching reading through
shared, guided and independent activities. Exemplified
units provide a wealth of information and guidance on
how to incorporate all the literacy strands and provide
rich opportunities for promoting reading for enjoyment.
Reading aloud to children of all ages is an essential
element of any reading programme. Through regularly
reading stories to young children (five short readings a
day), they build up a repertoire which can be used for
oral re-tellings, role-play and drama. Longer narrative
texts need to be read as a whole, over an extended
period of time, with built-in opportunities for reflection
and discussion.
Reading a wide range of texts, including ICT texts, also
needs to be integrated into classroom practice. Children
need to be given the opportunity to respond to a wealth
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of texts in a variety of ways and to develop and share
their personal preferences. All these will contribute
to improving standards in reading, and in speaking,
listening and writing.
New material to support teachers is regularly added to
the Primary Framework website. Recently, units of work
based on quality texts have been included and received
very positive feedback from teachers: “We have been
reading There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom and I can
honestly say it has inspired my Year 5 children who
can’t wait to read more by Louis Sachar.”
However, as we know, for children to become
confident, enthusiastic readers, we also need to take
reading beyond the classroom. The Reading Connects
approach promotes creating a whole-school reading
community, where reading is encouraged everywhere
and by everyone. To create such a rich reading
environment, we would suggest implementing the
following strategies:
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• Position reading for pleasure at the heart of the
school’s policy to raise standards and promote
enjoyment in learning
• Create a rich reading environment throughout the
school - making reading as visible as possible –
develop an inspiring school library
• Ensure all staff have a commitment to the creation of a
community of readers. The most effective teachers of
literacy are those with the most extensive knowledge
of children’s literature
• Involve all members of staff, including midday
supervisors, caretakers, governors and parent groups
in promoting reading
• Involve children in a range of activities and in
decision-making about the selection of texts to reflect
their interests
• Strengthen links with public libraries. The Enjoying
Reading initiative has been set up to encourage
schools and libraries to work more closely together
As Jim Knight, Minister of State for Schools and Learners
has said: “Children’s enjoyment of reading is critical
to their life chances, but schools alone can’t crack
this.” This is certainly the case for creating confident,
independent readers. We need to work with all key
partners, particularly with parents and carers, but also
with library services, as well as national and local
agencies, to ensure that we reach every child to help
them achieve their potential in life.
My advice would be to take the ideas and strategies in
this handbook and to start to build your whole-school
reading community today!
And what
turned you into
a reader?
For all of us working with children to support
reading development, it’s important to reflect
on our own reading and what it was that
hooked us in when we were young readers;
how reading different texts has shaped our
learning, attitudes and our lives.
I remember being as young as seven and
wanting to devour the so-unfashionable Enid
Blyton Famous Five series. I owe my ability
to read at breakneck speed to the way that
I raced my way through these books. Of
course, they were entirely alien to my south
London childhood, but they offered a window
into a life that other children had in the
countryside or by the sea.
And how many of us share that absolute
pleasure of planning the books we will enjoy
in the August sunshine? I personally have a
perverse pleasure in the first stage of packing
for my escape to Greece, which is lining the
bottom of my suitcase with these planned-for
treasures. As with the holiday, the pleasure
is in looking forward to it. That layer in my
suitcase is an essential part of the treat I am
giving myself - a holiday and time out to read.
Sally Rundell
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The Reading
Connects approach
The following advice, based on
successful approaches in primary
schools, should help get you
started and could be adapted
for your school. However, before
you even start on step one, if
you are not a member of the
senior management team (SMT),
you need to make sure that you
have their support. Page 12 of
this handbook has some useful
information for doing just that.
Form a small steering group of about four to
five staff members, including one member of
SMT, to lead the project
Be sure to include real enthusiasts in
your group, who will run with the idea of
embedding reading for pleasure across the
whole school community. Make sure that at
least one member of the SMT (if possible the
headteacher) is involved, as this will be vital in
overcoming potential barriers. Meet as a group
at least once every half-term to discuss your
progress. If possible, secure a day per term for
one or more of the group to be freed from the
classroom to work on the project.
Complete the Reading Connects audit
The self-evaluation tool on pages 8-11
(also available online) will give your steering
group the opportunity to look at the school’s
current reading for pleasure provision and see
which areas need development.
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Survey the children in your school
To get some baseline data to enable you to
measure the impact of the project, survey the
children about their attitudes to reading as
soon as possible and then again at appropriate
intervals. You may also like to correlate this
data with the reading levels of (some) children
as they progress throughout the year to see
if their improved attitudes to reading and
more frequent reading has an impact on
their attainment. There is a sample survey for
measuring attitudes to reading available from
the resources section of the website.
Get all your colleagues on board
If you are going to make a real difference, a
whole-school commitment is really important.
Use your enthusiasts to get the rest of the
staff on board and encourage all teaching and
non-teaching staff to support the project. You
may not get full support from staff from day one,
but it is worth persevering. The rest will come
on board as the initiatives you run gather pace
and they see the enthusiasm of the children. If
you are looking for recruitment tools to use for
staff meetings and Inset, there are a number of
resources on the Reading Connects website,
including short films, PowerPoint presentations
and research extracts.
Make reading for pleasure as visible as
possible in school
Reading won’t escape people’s minds if it has
an omnipresent visual profile – in classrooms, in
corridors, in the playground, in the school hall,
in the toilets, in the foyer…everywhere. Making
reading visible is a simple but effective way to
get going. The reading promotion section of
the website has some great ideas for making
reading visible. The ‘Champions read’ posters
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are also a good way to use famous reading
role models to promote reading; they can be
accessed from the Reading Connects website.
Focus on further areas to strengthen
your project
The Reading Connects audit covers a
lot of different areas and will help you to
prioritise which to work on first. However, the
following three areas need to be a part of any
development work that you do and will help
strengthen all of the other strands:
• Encourage reading in the home
If the project is going to make a genuine
difference, getting families involved in your
project is essential. The Reading Connects
family involvement toolkit, included in your
welcome pack, provides lots of ideas and
strategies for working with a range of families.
• Work with your local library services
This has hopefully given you some food for thought for
getting going. The Reading Connects website also has
a page signposting you to possible funding streams, as
well as information on potential barriers and solutions.
Reading Connects wants to hear from you
We are always really keen for you to tell us about your
experiences of developing a whole-school reading
culture, so that we can share your good practice with
other schools and local authorities. If you would like
to write a case study for the website (and raise the
profile of your great work at the same time) please
visit the website and download a template from the
resources section.
Good luck!
The Reading Connects team
Your local library services – public library and
School Library Service – will be in a good
position to help your school by providing
creative activities, a wide range of reading
materials and staff expertise.
• Develop your school library
A great school library will help support a
lot of your other reading activity. So if your
school library needs a bit of attention, or a lot
of attention (maybe you need to create one),
make sure it is one of your priority areas. A
well-stocked and well-staffed school library
will provide a hub for developing other areas
in the audit, such as reading groups, events
or transition projects.
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The Reading
Connects audit
Area of focus
Promoting reading for
pleasure is part of the
School Improvement Plan
(SIP). One staff member
leads on this and all staff
are aware of this priority.
Promoting reading for
pleasure is an ongoing
part of the school strategy
to raise standards and is
an important part of the
SIP. Staff are involved in
delivering this strategy.
Promoting reading for pleasure
is central to the school’s policy
to achieve and enjoy. It forms
an important foundation for
improvement within the SIP.
All teaching staff actively
promote reading in and
out of lesson time.
Reading advocacy uses
staff members as role
Reading celebration and
advocacy involves all groups in
the wider school community,
including catering staff,
caretakers, governors and
parent groups.
Staff member in charge
of the library has
opportunities to attend
training on reading issues.
Adult/children’s book
recommendations have
a regular slot in staff
Providing ideas for promoting
reading is integrated into the
school’s Inset programme.
Subject leaders compile
topic booklists and
teachers use some class
time to promote reading
related to curriculum areas.
Use of library for wider
reading and research
around topic areas
is integrated into
schemes of work across
curriculum areas.
Curriculum delivery integrates
developing reading
independence and promoting
reading for pleasure and
research in class and beyond.
Information is collected
from pupils with special
educational needs through
surveys to establish their
attitude to reading and
inform planning/support.
Information is collected
from gifted and talented
pupils and pupils from
vulnerable backgrounds
through surveys to
establish their attitudes
to reading and inform
All pupils’ attitudes to reading
are monitored throughout KS1
and KS2 via journals or other
methods. This information is
used to personalise provision
and meet individual needs.
Pupils’ opinions and
recommendations are
sought when planning
reading for pleasure
Pupils are involved in
planning and delivering
the school’s reading for
pleasure promotion.
Pupils are a central part
and have a lead role in
planning and delivering the
school’s reading for pleasure
Whole-school vision, policy and strategy
attitudes to
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This audit, on pages 8-11, is a useful tool for you to review your current
reading for pleasure provision. It provides an overview of the areas
where you have developed a strong reading culture and also those
where there is room for more focus. You may like to revisit this audit at a
later date to see where your school has made progress.
Area of focus
The foyer, corridors and
classrooms celebrate all
types of reading, including
pupil recommendations.
School publicity material,
including websites and
newsletters, promotes the
importance of all types
of reading.
Pupil involvement in ensuring
the visibility of reading for
pleasure throughout the
school is maintained in
both an imaginative and
interactive way.
Some peer-to-peer
recommendation takes
place between pupils.
A system for peer-to-peer
reading recommendations
(using the school ICT
system) is established
throughout the school
Pupils play an important role in
running the system for peer-topeer reading recommendation.
Pupils are encouraged to
use the internet to post
book reviews, recommend
reading materials etc.
Pupils use multimedia to
promote reading activity in
the school.
School uses web technology
to link with other schools on
reading projects – for example,
using video conferencing to
develop international links.
Reading is promoted
during school events and
in school assemblies.
Several reading events
are held each year, linking
in with national events
such as World Book Day
and National Children’s
Book Week.
Reading promotion events take
place regularly throughout the
year including a school book
week/reading focus week.
Pupil reading groups run
Special interest reading
groups run regularly and/
or groups are run that link
in with national schemes,
such as Greenaway, or
local book awards.
Parents, staff and the wider
school community take part in
school reading groups. Pupils
have a lead role in organising
pupil reading groups.
Some in-class or crossyear-group buddy reading
takes place.
In-class, cross-year-group
or primary-secondary
school buddy reading takes
place throughout school
Pupils are central to
developing and sustaining
school buddying scheme.
Reading promotion
Visibility of
Reading events and groups
Reading events
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Area of focus
Library is welcoming
and resources are
easily accessed.
Clear signage and
interesting displays
encourage library use with
promotions related to the
curriculum. Library
is open throughout the
school day.
School or class library is
presented in bookshop style,
and is also open beyond the
school day.
As well as a good range
of fiction and non-fiction
titles, the school library
stocks magazines,
newspapers, comics etc.
Classrooms have a class
library corner which is
well stocked and regularly
updated. It includes
children’s own published
Library has a well stocked
section for pupils’ parents/
carers and wider family
members who are emergent
adult readers.
Pupils are involved in
suggesting and selecting
some of the school’s
reading resources,
with pupils’ choices
clearly marked.
Pupil librarians are trained
to maintain and develop
school library.
Pupil involvement in selection
of school reading resources
and library management is
integral to the system.
School promotes reading
materials and booklists
targeted at boys.
Boys’ reading clubs
and reading events run
School runs an effective
project involving boys
promoting reading for all ages
– for example, the Reading
Champions scheme.
A range of dual language
texts or appropriate
materials reflecting pupils’
diverse cultures and
backgrounds is available
for pupils to borrow.
School systems promoting
reading for pleasure
and reading groups are
established to meet the
needs of pupils from
diverse cultures and
Pupils and families from
diverse cultures and
backgrounds are involved in
promoting reading to pupils.
Specific ideas are used
to ease transition – for
example, Year 6 pupils
send suggested holiday
reads to their new school
for display on their entry
to Year 7. Procedures
promote progression in
reading from year to year.
Regular initiatives aid
transition – for example,
visits by Year 7 and older
pupils for reading activities.
School develops a reading
for pleasure strategy with
local secondary schools to
ease transition, and pupils’
views are taken into account
during planning.
School library
and display
Special interest groups
Pupils and
from diverse
cultures and
Year 6 to 7
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Area of focus
All parents/carers
are made aware of
the importance of
encouraging their
children to read and how
the school can support
them through materials
eg booklists and top
reading tips.
Communication methods
are adapted to suit target
group of parents/carers.
Some parents/carers
themselves are used
as advocates.
Parents/carers are offered
regular support sessions on
choosing reading materials
and reading with children
in KS1 and KS2. Regular
feedback from parents/carers
and children is used to inform
Family events
and activities
Reading for pleasure is
promoted during school
events and activities to
which family members/
carers are invited.
Family reading events/
activities are run during the
year and some parents/
carers are involved in the
Family reading events/activities
are run for target groups – for
example, dads, grandparents
or families for whom English is
an additional language.
Information is signposted
for parents/carers to
improve their literacy skills
where appropriate.
Links are in place with
family learning services to
help identify parents and
wider family members who
struggle with literacy skills.
The services of a family learning
coordinator are available in
school to help parents/carers
and wider family members
improve their own literacy skills.
School liaises with other
schools in the area
to develop and share
reading for pleasure ideas.
School holds reading
events with other schools.
School develops reading for
pleasure strategies and shares
good practice with a group of
schools in the area as part of
an authority-wide focus.
School encourages pupils
to use the public library,
and displays information
leaflets from library. School
subscribes to SLS
(where it exists).
Class visits to library and
visits from the children’s
librarian/SLS take place.
School liaises with
local library on Summer
Reading Challenge.
Joint projects and events are
held by school and public
library and/or SLS. Pupils are
part of focus groups.
Community members/
organisations regularly
support reading in school
– for example, through a
volunteer reading scheme.
School works with
community organisations
on project(s) to promote
reading among pupils.
Community organisations,
including possible business
partnerships, are involved
through coordinating reading
activity in joint projects with
Family involvement
Adult basic
skills provision
Community involvement
Working in
with other
Public library /
School Library
Service (where
and adults from
the community
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Whole-school vision,
policy and strategy
Whole-school strategy
The key to building a whole-school reading community
is support from the senior management team. Without
the backing of the headteacher, even the most
enthusiastic reader development activity can only
achieve so much. Headteacher support will mean that
it becomes a priority for the school and its progress will
be monitored as part of school’s evaluation process;
it will feature in the School Improvement Plan; and it
will (hopefully) be allocated the necessary budget and
resources (staff, space and time).
This page clarifies how the Reading Connects approach
can help your school meet its targets to raise academic
standards and support children’s personal development.
The benefits of being a frequent and enthusiastic reader
are well documented. The more you read and enjoy
reading, the better and more confident you become
at reading and the more you want to do it. Creating
skilled, confident readers who are eager to access the
curriculum is the fundamental way in which the Reading
Connects approach can help your school.
This approach can also help your school work towards
some of the Every Child Matters (ECM) outcomes and
meet the related local authority National Indicators.
Creating a culture that promotes reading for pleasure
helps children to enjoy and achieve, make a positive
contribution and, consequently, to achieve economic
wellbeing later in life.
Enjoy and achieve
The Reading Connects approach can help you to meet
your local authority target for:
To address the achievement gap, Reading Connects
supports schools in working with children and families
where there is little or no culture of reading in the home.
This can help you to:
• Reduce the achievement gap between pupils eligible
for free school meals and their peers achieving the
expected level at key stage 2.
The approach also advocates inclusivity, suggesting
ways in which schools can encourage boys, children
from ethnic minorities and those with special
educational needs (SEN) to love reading. This support
may help you to fulfil specific targets related to reducing
the SEN gap and raising attainment for black and
minority ethnic groups.
Make a positive contribution
A central theme for developing an enhanced reading
culture is to encourage the children in your school to
play an active role in the process. This relates directly to
the ECM outcome ‘making a positive contribution’ and
the associated target which requires all young people
to participate in positive activities.
No matter which way you look at it, a reading
community is a learning and thinking community. There
can be few better ways to improve pupils’ chances at
school, and beyond, than to enable them to become
truly independent readers. Now that the case has been
established for making this a whole-school priority,
read on and find out the exciting ways in which you can
make it a reality.
• Achievement at level 4 or above in English at key
stage 2
• Progression by two levels in English between key
stage 1 and 2
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Whole-school vision, policy and strategy
Case study
From acorn to Mile Oak
Mile Oak Primary School is the largest primary school in Brighton,
with 500 children. The key to its successful reading culture? Strong
leadership and a lot of enthusiasm. Martin Cooper, deputy headteacher,
tells us Mile Oak’s story.
When I joined the school in 2004, my aim was to
transform the profile of reading and establish a strong
community of enthusiastic readers. Importantly, I wanted
the children and staff to take ownership of promoting
reading in the school.
Four years on, I am happy to say that we have now
achieved this vision. We have a book-rich environment,
with books in every corridor and in the playground. We
have three busy libraries, all run by our Year 6 librarians.
Families take part in our ongoing Get Caught Reading
campaign and we also have regular reading volunteers
from EDF Energy.
One key strategy to get these developments on
everybody’s agenda was to include a library policy
in our School Improvement Plan. In particular, we
have linked in our accelerated reading library with
raising standards.
To get the children on board, we have established
a whole raft of Reading Champions – a beacon for
reading in every class — responsible for helping fellow
classmates to choose new books. This autumn, our most
dedicated Reading Champions will have their efforts set
in stone, as we will unveil our own reading walk of fame,
complete with its own Hollywood-style stars.
We have achieved all of this in a relatively short period
of time and without a huge injection of capital. Now it
is important that everybody in the school community
keeps the initiatives moving on, so that everything
keeps getting bigger and better.
Mile Oak was the Reading Connects primary school of
the year 2007/2008. You can read their case study in
full on the website.
It was, and still is, essential that the staff see the value
of the changes and support them, as I cannot do it all
on my own in such a big school. Some of the staff gave
their full support to the changes from day one. The rest
have come on board as the initiatives have gathered
pace and they have responded to the enthusiasm of
the children. The support of established, long-serving
members of staff has helped. As well as the teaching
staff, I also had meetings with teaching assistants
and midday supervisory assistants to introduce
them to some of the initiatives, and they have been
very supportive.
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Whole-staff engagement
It will probably take a bit of time and it will need
perseverance, but getting all of your staff on board will
certainly be worth it. And in saying staff, we mean all
staff, including midday supervisors, caretakers, parent
(teacher) councils and governors, the SMT, teachers and
teaching assistants. Given the impact that reading can
have, everyone needs to see encouraging the children
to read as a personal responsibility in some way.
Pupil involvement
Some members of staff will play a more central role
of course, but everyone in school can take on some
kind of reading challenge. This could be something
as simple as leaving out whatever they are reading
at a desk or work station. It could mean taking part
in a Get Caught Reading poster campaign. Why not
make a menu of reading challenges for your staff to
choose from?
As suggested on page 6, it is useful to survey the
children to find out what they want to read and what
activities they want to do. In addition, you could
recruit a representative group of children as reading
ambassadors. They could help you plan and deliver
some of the activities, while developing their leadership
skills at the same time.
For teaching staff specifically, it is vital that they have
a good knowledge of a wide variety of children’s
books and also have the confidence to use them in the
classroom. As you know, teachers are very busy people
and may find it hard to keep up to date. However,
librarians have an extensive knowledge of children’s
literature and love to enthuse about it. So, you might
like to think about suggesting a CPD slot for the school/
public/School Library Service (SLS) librarian during staff
meetings or Insets to support teaching staff in this area.
There are also ideas for raising the profile of reading
among staff on the Reading Connects website.
Our favourite practical ideas
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The most successful reading community will be one
where your children have a lead role in planning and
delivering activity and strategies. This will enable them
to contribute to their school community in a positive
way and will inform staff about exactly what the
children want.
Request boxes. Place a box in every classroom and
outside the library and encourage children to place
their requests for new books and reading materials in
the box.
Ambassadors vote. Get your reading ambassadors
to vote for a read of the month and turn the
recommendation into a poster.
Screensavers. Encourage children to make
screensavers of their favourite authors or reads and
upload them to the school server. Rotate them on a
monthly basis.
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The primary classroom is the child’s ‘home’ in the
school. If, as evidence suggests, the child who comes
from a reading home is more likely to be a reader,
then the ‘home’ in the school also needs to offer an
environment where reading can flourish.
Reading for pleasure and
learning objectives
The good news is that developing a love of reading
among children is integrated into the Primary National
Strategy (PNS) framework. It states that children need to
be given opportunities to develop their own personal
reading. Strand eight of the 12 learning objectives
– engaging and responding to texts – outlines the
progression for children to discover a love of reading
in class. This starts in Year 1 where children need to be
able to “Select books for personal reading and give
reasons for choices” and by Year 6 has progressed
to “Read extensively and discuss personal reading
with others, including in reading groups”. There is
lots of scope for developing this learning objective
in class as a part of shared, guided and independent
reading activities.
Reading for pleasure and developing
reading across the curriculum
Reading is the key that unlocks the curriculum and so,
if children are given the opportunity to relate reading
for pleasure to all areas of the curriculum, it will help
them to understand the relevance of subjects to the real
world. These opportunities should also extend beyond
non-fiction books. For example, using poetry, issues
arising in fiction books, websites and articles from
magazines can all help to keep your approach varied.
Whole-school vision, policy and strategy
Cross-curricular links
Our favourite practical ideas
Monthly themes. Why not create your own monthly
reading themes that link to different curriculum areas.
Science. Look at the science behind superheroes’
powers (for example, Spiderman and gravity). Relate
science-fiction books and comics to science fact.
Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL).
Use targeted fiction books or stories as starting points
for discussions on issues such as bullying or friendship.
KS2 languages. Learn rhymes and simple poems in
languages taught in school as a whole-class, using lots
of actions and gestures to convey meaning.
The PNS website provides lots of materials to support
this area of teaching.
Numeracy. Use a selection of numeracy-related
puzzle and quiz books as a stimulus for creative
numeracy activities.
The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education has also
produced a range of CPD and classroom resources for
teachers. Visit
Your SLS/public library may also have ready-made book
boxes and activities.
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Visibility of reading
When establishing a reading culture, it is important to
raise the visible profile of reading throughout the whole
school. Use visual displays to send out the following
important messages about reading.
Reading is about enjoyment. Offer and display a
breadth of reading materials such as magazines,
newspapers, comics, fiction and non-fiction books,
poetry and websites.
Reading is something that you can do anytime and
anywhere. As well as developing storytelling corners
in each of the classrooms and decorating the corridors
with reading displays, paint the toilet doors with famous
characters from books, or even develop a reading
garden for the summer term.
Reading is something very individual. Personalise
your reading displays and link in with the peer-to-peer
recommendation systems that you have developed.
Reading promotion
Reading promotion
Our favourite practical ideas
Extreme reading. Set up a photo competition for
children and staff to be captured reading in the most
obscure and entertaining place that they can think of.
Display the winners’ photographs around the school.
Get caught reading. Lend children digital cameras and
ask them to photograph staff reading. Blow these up to
poster size and put a caption underneath each poster
that explains why the person has chosen that particular
read. Put the posters up all over school.
Calendars. Take pictures of staff and students reading
and transform these images into reading calendars
which can go up in each classroom. Schools have
chosen different themes for calendars – for example,
a Real Men Read calendar featured boys and male
members of staff.
You can also demonstrate to visitors and parents the
extent to which your school values reading through
your visual displays. If there is a school website or
newsletter, include a reading zone. Make sure that there
are reading materials and reading recommendation
displays in the school foyer. Use audio books as your
telephone hold music.
And finally, the school library is the most visual reading
display of all. Make your school library an attractive
place to be and get everyone more involved in the
school’s reading activities. Why not create your very
own yellow brick road along the walls of the school
corridors to the library?
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Peer-to-peer recommendation
Research shows that children are most likely to identify
role models from their immediate social environment. In
addition to this, following family influences, children cite
peers as their most important role models (Bricheno and
Thornton, 2007). Therefore, we need to make the most
of the ‘peer factor’.
There are a number of ways to encourage peer-to-peer
recommendation in school. You could set up systems
of recommendation between classes to create a bit of
competition. Your area may run a local children’s book
award with which you can get involved. For examples
of local reading initiatives, visit
uk/campaign/citywideinitiatives.html. Importantly, for it
to be authentic peer-to-peer recommendation, pupils
need to play an important role in running the systems;
the children’s voices need to come through strongly.
To raise the profile of peer recommendations, your
children could create visual displays outside of the
classroom, using posters, swap boxes or belly bands, in
places where children might not expect to see reading
suggestions. Using the technology in your school to
make recommendations – on the school website,
screensavers or on the welcome screen in reception
– is a good way to disseminate messages to a large
audience, including parents. As well as recommending
books and authors of fiction, make sure that your
recommendations include great websites, comics,
magazines and newspaper articles.
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Our favourite practical ideas
Belly bands. If you have a reading ambassadors group
or reading club, ask them to write short movie reviewstyle comments about their recommended reads.
Print their comments on belly bands (strips of paper)
and wrap them around the books for a visual way to
promote recommended reads.
Our school reads: the movie. Lend video recording
equipment to pupils and set them the task of
interviewing other pupils about their favourite reads.
Encourage them to create a montage film of all of
the video clips. Upload the film to the school website
or play it on the screen in reception, if you have
these facilities.
Point reward system. Set up a points reward system.
If a pupil recommends a good read to a friend and their
friend borrows it from the school library or reads the
book, the pupil is awarded three points and their friend,
two points. Give rewards out to those who achieve
set milestones.
Reading Connects downloadables. Download the
Reading Connects materials and edit the blank fields
to add your own recommendations as often as you
like. The materials include a ‘read of the week’ poster,
a ‘top ten reads’ poster, shelf-talkers and ‘if you liked
this, try this’ bookmarks. Visit the resources section of
the website.
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Reading Rockets launch at Millfield
Reading promotion
Case study
A rocket is defined as a self-propelling device. This is certainly true
of the enthusiasm of the Reading Rockets group at Millfield First and
Nursery School in Hertfordshire. Gillian Langley, deputy headteacher
at the school, explains.
For the National Year of Reading, we wanted to inspire
our school community to read more, through a rich and
varied programme of reading activity. To achieve this,
we needed a strong team of leaders to take on the
mission. Our Reading Rockets group emerged, made up
of pupils, staff and parents.
The group’s first mission was to produce a magazine.
Our young roving Rockets were equipped with a
reporter’s pack including a pad, pencil and a special
badge. The group get together on a regular basis to
plan and produce each of the magazines, featuring
book reviews, stories, interviews, puzzles, competitions
and photographs. They have relished the challenge,
from collecting material from fellow pupils, to using ICT
to prepare for publication.
and our reading calendar has been bursting at the
seams with activity, including a Readathon and a comic
strip challenge evening.
Children have loved the opportunity to take
responsibility for this project. We have also significantly
improved our attainment levels at key stage 1 by 30 per
cent and increased the involvement of parents reading
with their children both at home and at school.
But it’s definitely not a case of mission complete. We
are now planning a whole new raft of reading activity
and magazines, involving as many of the children and
parents as possible.
One pupil said: “I enjoy being in the Reading Rockets
group. I loved designing the first front cover. I think I
read more books now.”
Our parents really enjoy the magazine too: “We loved
the children’s own stories as well as their reviews of
their favourite books.”
The other children in school also get excited when
a new magazine comes out: “I love the extreme
reading pictures.”
Mission one: an ongoing success. Mission two was for
the Reading Rockets to organise a monthly reading
event involving parents. They have once again excelled
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The National Literacy Trust’s (NLT) Young people’s
self-perception as readers research (2008) reported
that websites (particularly social networking websites),
emails and blogs featured in the top four most
frequently read materials out of school. Therefore, to
get pupils reading for pleasure more frequently, we
need to ensure that they are encouraged to read onscreen texts and that ICT plays a central role in reader
development work.
On-screen reading
Encouraging children to read websites for enjoyment,
as well as to find information, is one way to increase
the amount of reading that goes on at school and at
home. Why not produce a recommended websites
poster that you update every month? There are
also lots of websites which encourage children to
read books. The NLT has a list of great websites
which encourage reading for pleasure. Visit www.
The role of ICT in reader development
There are many ways in which you can boost your
reader development work using ICT.
Mobile phones. Many websites offer free text
messages via the internet. Why not announce
a competition to staff via SMS? Or send out a
text to children with details of the next reading
group session?
Email. Send out e-alerts to staff recommending a read
of the month.
School website. Build a reading zone into your
school website.
Multimedia. If your school has the technology to
create multimedia presentations featuring film clips
and sound bites, you have the potential to spread the
word about reading in an exciting and engaging way.
Film clips. Using a digital camera or video camera
recorder, and film editing software, you can create
short films – for example, to showcase the children’s
performance poetry.
Podcasting. Lend pupils a digital voice recorder and
set them the task of interviewing staff and children
about their reading and the school’s reading in the
style of a radio programme. You could then podcast
the recording via the internet.
Video conferencing. Set up a link with another
school in this country (or overseas). If both your school
and your partner school have access to a webcam,
speakers, a microphone, a computer, a projector and
an internet connection, you have the facility to hold
video conferences and perform poems to each other
or run a reading group ‘face-to-face’.
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Reading events and groups
Reading events
and groups
Reading events
Holding a reading event or a book week is a great way
for you to raise the profile of reading, generate a buzz
and motivate pupils to get involved. Budget permitting,
it is particularly effective if you hold a series of events
over the course of a year, so that excitement generated
is more than just a flash in the pan.
And some of the work has been done for you already.
Every year there are many high-profile national reading
events which offer resources and practical ideas for
getting involved - some are mentioned below. Linking
your events to popular culture is a great way to
involve those who wouldn’t normally be interested in a
reading activity.
National events
World Book Day (first Thursday in March)
Why not hold a 24-hour Readathon (
in school involving children, staff and their families for
World Book Day, including bedtime storytelling sessions
throughout the night. Visit
Link with popular culture: our favourite
practical ideas
Sport - Olympics London 2012. The official London
2012 education programme was launched in September
2008. Why not celebrate Olympic records of the past
and present in a quiz format. Or see if you can invite
an athlete to talk about why being able to read is an
important part of their training programme.
Popular television - Dr Who. The Dr Who series of
books and graphic novels can be a good hook for
children who are fans of the TV series. Run a Dr Who
lunchtime slot in the school library for children with word
games related to Dr Who’s enemies and a swap box
of Dr Who memorabilia for the children to borrow and
take home.
Rhythm and rhyme. Hold your own poetry slam and
encourage the children to perform their favourite
rhymes, lyrics and poems. Hook them in by discussing
lyrics from popular songs.
National Children’s Book Week
(first full week in October)
Hold a whole-school vote in September to find out the
children’s favourite book, nursery rhyme or fairy tale.
Hold lots of events and activities during the week based
on the chosen book/story. Visit
National Storytelling Week
(first full week in February)
Jackanory has been reinvented for the 21st century.
Hold a series of lunchtime storytelling sessions
where the children watch an episode of the popular
programme and then discuss what they liked about the
story. For more ideas visit
School Library Association
Brilliant Books: Running a Successful School Library
Book Event
Scottish Book Trust - advice on running
events in schools
National reading events calendar
See page 42 or visit
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Reading groups
The first things to consider are, who do you want to
come to the group and what is your reason for setting it
up? You may be looking to give your enthusiastic Year
5 and 6 readers the opportunity to discuss great fiction
titles. Alternatively, you may be aiming to ‘convert’ a
group of reluctant readers. Whichever group it is, the
key to success is to know your target audience and
what you want to achieve with them.
It will, of course, be easier to engage your avid readers
– you could shadow the Kate Greenaway and Carnegie
book awards or the Red House Children’s Book Award.
However, if you are looking to inspire a group of
reluctant readers, just getting them through the door
may be your first challenge. Therefore, your first task
is to find out if your target group have any common
interests and then find reading materials, games and
puzzles to stimulate these interests. You may then
like to name your group accordingly – promoting the
Dinosaur Discovers’ club, or Manga Mania Mondays,
may be more likely hook the children in than inviting
them to join a reading group.
No matter who you are inviting to join the club, involving
some of the children in the planning and running of the
sessions will make them feel like they own the group –
it’s a chance for them to read whatever they want and
for it to feel different from being in the classroom.
Holding the sessions in a relaxed environment away
from a classroom setting is important. Understandably,
this may be difficult in smaller schools. The school
library is an obvious choice of venue. Or perhaps you
could create your own reading garden for the summer
months. Also, whether it is weekly, fortnightly or monthly,
try to be consistent with the time the group is held to
encourage consistent attendance by the children.
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Our favourite practical ideas
Breakfast readers. Run a breakfast readers group
for half an hour before school starts as part of your
extended services core offer.
Storytelling. Run your reading group as a storytelling
club and ask local storytellers, parents or community
members to come in and tell stories to the children.
Chatterbooks. Contact your local public library to see
if they run Chatterbooks, a national reading group
scheme coordinated by The Reading Agency.
Top Trumps. As well as reading, use the sessions as
a chance to play games linked to reading, such as
Top Trumps.
Trends. Link reading group sessions with current trends
to maximise participation – for example, comparing the
PSP to the Nintendo DX.
ContinYou’s Book It programme and resources:
Carnegie and Greenaway shadowing:
Their Reading Futures:
The British Council’s Reading Groups Toolkit:
Red House Children’s Book Award:
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Rotherham’s Book Oscars
Taking part in a local or regional book award can help you raise the
profile of reading in your school. Adam French, literacy subject leader
and Reading Champion at Anston Park Junior School, explains how it
works in Rotherham.
As a hush falls over the expectant audience, made up
of Rotherham’s most enthusiastic young readers, the
winner of the 2008 Rotherham’s Children’s Book Award
is announced. All the pre-vote drama and discussion
in schools has culminated in one gold envelope. An
announcement is made. Colin Bateman is jubilant, as his
book Titanic 2020 snatches the much-coveted trophy
by a whisker. The children’s excitement bubbles over,
their faces revealing the winning author’s loyal fans.
Anston Park Junior School is proud to be one of 59
primary and secondary schools that have given the
award centre stage in their reading calendar. The road
to the award ceremony has seen our children grow in
confidence and develop a love of reading as a result.
There are six short-listed books, and each child has
one vote. Beyond this, flexibility and creativity rule. Our
school has used the scheme in a variety of ways, from
running a popular book group fuelled by passionate
discussions, to holding entertaining drama sessions that
hook in even the most reluctant of readers.
Reading events and groups
Case study
One pupil said: “I used to read because I had to, but I
actually enjoyed doing this because you got to say what
you really think, not just say what you think your teacher
wants to hear.”
The school’s involvement in the award represents a
long-term strategy to promote children’s reading and
develop their ability to treat books as an asset, rather
than objects to be avoided. Next year, we hope to
involve parents. I’m sure they will enjoy it as much as
we do, and revel in the opportunity to grace our reading
red carpet.
Importantly, staff and children share these experiences
as equal readers. The project is a time to send the
Sats and targets to the wings and place the spotlight
on enjoying a good story and taking the opportunity
to share our opinions. It encourages a relaxed,
focused expression of personal preference involving
developing speaking and listening skills and, of course,
reading skills.
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Buddy reading, also sometimes referred to as reading
partners or mentoring, has proven to be successful
for many children and young people. For the less
advanced readers, buddying improves reading ability
and attainment across the curriculum. It can also
improve their attitudes to reading for pleasure, as
well as building confidence and social skills. Through
volunteering, the reading mentor also benefits from
improved social skills and increased enthusiasm
for learning.
If you want to run a buddying project, the first task
will be to choose which children are going to be your
mentees and mentors. Your mentees will most likely
be those children who need a boost with their reading.
When it comes to targeting mentors, an effective route
is to work with those children who the younger children
look up to, the natural role models in school. These
may not necessarily be those children who are used to
being given responsibility. However, with supervision,
they can really benefit from the experience.
As well as ‘in-house’ buddying, you may like to use a
project like this as an opportunity to build stronger links
with your local secondary school. Buddying projects
between Year 7/8 students and Year 5/6 pupils can link
in effectively with transition strategies.
Things to consider when setting up a
buddying project
Where. A designated place where the buddies feel
comfortable is important. This should be somewhere
free from distraction.
Training. Whether it is informal or formal, some sort of
training for the mentors is essential. This needs to cover
issues such as tactics for motivating reluctant readers,
how we learn to read, activities and how to build
positive relationships.
Reading events and groups
Involving the children. When the buddies have been
recruited, get some of the older children involved in the
planning and delivery of the project.
Evaluation. As well as tracking the pupils’ progress, as
part of their ongoing reading assessment, you could
survey both the mentors and mentees about their
reading habits before the start of the buddying project
and then again at the end.
Feedback. Hold sessions for the mentors once every
half-term/term so that they can discuss how they feel
their buddy is progressing and air any concerns about
the experience.
Resources and organisations
Volunteer Reading Help – Reach Out and Read courses
CSV community tutoring – Reading Together
Read On – Write Away! Good buddies CD-Rom and
buddy reading training
Literacy volunteering and mentoring
When. Whether it is before school, at lunchtime, after
school or during class, hold the sessions at a consistent
time every week.
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School library
The school library environment
What makes a great school library? First of all, it should
be a library that the whole school uses regularly –
children, staff and parents. It’s a library that supports
the curriculum, but also one that should be used to
encourage all children to develop a love of books and
other reading materials. The day-to-day practice of
the most successful school libraries is underpinned
by a school library policy that is linked to the School
Improvement Plan. This policy should indicate how the
school library intends to support the school in achieving
its targets.
This chapter presupposes that your library will have
much more of an impact if its role is integrated into
school policy and is backed by sufficient funding. We
know in some schools this will be the case and, in
others, it will be a very different picture. If raising the
profile of your library in school is your first task, you may
want to have a look back at the whole-school vision
section of this handbook.
Ideally your library should be open during the school
day (including lunchtime) and beyond the school day,
providing reading opportunities for children, staff and
parents. This is, of course, easier said than done, as
your school library’s opening hours will be closely linked
with staff capacity. If your school employs a part-time
librarian, and the library is closed for part of the day, you
could train older children, parents or local volunteers to
run the operational routines of the library, allowing for
the library to be open for longer.
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Creating the right environment
Ideally, the library should be centrally located and
a designated (single-use) space. However, in its
report, Ofsted (2006) recognised that this was not
always possible, but that “many of the best libraries
had been created with care, over time, and through
the imaginative use of stock rooms, corridors and
redundant classrooms”.
If your library is not a central space, a little bit of
creativity and vision can go a very long way. Above all,
the library should be exciting and feel different from the
classroom. If you subscribe to a School Library Service
(SLS), it will be able to advise you on the layout and
design of your library. Below are some suggestions for
creating the right environment.
Library bookshop. Rearrange the library to make it
more like a bookshop. Put together themed book
carousels (for example biographies) or get old dump
bins from a local bookshop, create book tables and put
signs on them.
Take the library out to the school community. Take a
selection of books to the lunch queue, the playground
or the reception area. Get library helpers to record
which books are borrowed.
Informal reading spaces. As well as a study space, get
the children involved in creating an informal reading
space with beanbags or comfy chairs. Different lighting
(lava lamps or fairy lights) can also create an exciting
atmosphere in corners or little nooks.
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School library
Selecting resources
The school library needs be owned by everybody in
the school so children and staff should be given the
opportunity to suggest new reading materials.
As well as giving the children the opportunity to request
new reading materials, the librarian will, of course, have
the final say. There is such a wealth of literature out
there, what should you buy? Reading materials need
to provide users with curriculum support, but should
also fuel their interests and reflect cultural and social
diversity, as well as different reading levels in the
school. There should be the right balance of fiction and
non-fiction titles (including picture books) and the library
should offer children the opportunity to discover new
authors and develop new interests. As well as books,
school libraries should try and cater for the broad
range of materials that children enjoy outside school.
Magazines, comics and children’s newspapers may
just be the hook to get new readers to use your school
library more often.
When it comes to renewing stock, Chartered Institute of
Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) guidelines
suggest that school libraries should replace 10 per cent
of their stock annually to make sure reading materials
are up to date, relevant and offer all children equal
opportunities. With a limited budget, this is not always
easy, but a library with old tatty books that no one
reads is not worth much more than a library with empty
shelves. Many schools have shown how resourceful
you can be in sourcing new stock on a limited budget
– donations of books from parents, charity shops and
sponsorship from local businesses, for example.
In addition, if you have one, your SLS is a costeffective way to ensure that your library has new
reading materials. Books can normally be borrowed or
purchased via the SLS. Some also offer ready-made
book boxes relating to a particular curriculum area or
area of interest. If your area doesn’t have an SLS, your
public library may offer a similar service.
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The school librarian
The CILIP Primary school library guidelines clearly state
the reasons why a school needs appropriate staffing
for its library. The ideal would be a full-time librarian, but
a part-time librarian is a suggested alternative where
budgets are limited.
However this works best in your school, it is essential
that your librarian is given the time and support to
manage the library. Parents, community and pupil
volunteers can help with the running of the library to
free up time for the librarian to develop strategies
related to stock and library use, to support curriculum
links and to turn more children into avid readers.
School library self-evaluation frameworks
(Department for Children, Schools and Families)
Most importantly, your librarian needs to have a strong
passion for books and reading and for sharing this
enthusiasm with other people. If you are the librarian,
I’m sure this describes you perfectly!
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CILIP Primary school library guidelines
School Library Association publications
Booktrust school libraries research
Good school libraries: making a difference to learning
(Ofsted, 2006)
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A library that rules the school
School library
Case study
Jayne Gould, librarian at Broke Hall Primary School, Ipswich, describes
how their welcoming and accessible library environment has turned
children into confident, independent library users.
Broke Hall is a large primary school on the edge of
Ipswich, with 600 wonderful children. I joined the
school library in 2000, at a time when we had a clear
vision for developing an engaging space with exciting
and diverse stock. As part of the school’s rebuilding
programme in 2004, our vision was realised. A
permanent dedicated library area was opened – a
magical space that is airy, central and easily accessible
for all children and staff.
From the word go, our library was championed by
a supportive headteacher, Monica Adlem, and now
the current headteacher, Richard Griffiths. One great
organisation that has also helped us to achieve our
vision is Suffolk Schools Library Service, whose service
we buy in to. They have provided invaluable advice on
layout, design and stock selection.
With a great space, a passionate librarian (that’s me!)
and support from senior management, it is no big
surprise that the children flock to our library. The
library is bright, cheerful and welcoming, with colourful
cushions, a rug and comfortable seating, as well as a
work area. It is divided into three zones: the Reading
Corner is for Foundation and key stage 1 children, the
Reading Zone for older children and the Learning Zone
houses all of our information books.
Children are also encouraged to come to the library
outside of class time. Reading promotion has become a
particular focus, driven by our National Year of Reading
working group. Ideas put into practice include reading
trees featuring reading recommendation leaves,
extreme reading promotions and our ‘everything starts
with reading’ campaign which links hobbies and interest
with reading.
Children are helped to become confident, independent
library users, with an interest in books and reading. It
is hoped that by having wide-ranging, age appropriate
stock, which reflects their interests as well as curriculum
needs, they see libraries as being fun as well as a
source of information. Certainly, this has been reflected
in comments from our pyramid high school librarian,
who says she can always recognise our pupils from the
fact that they know how to use the library. The children’s
feedback drives us to be more and more ambitious with
the plans for our library. One child recently told me that
she “loves this library”. What more could you ask for?
Classes have a weekly library time, which can be used
in a variety of ways in consultation with the teacher.
These range from story sessions and an introduction
to the library for Reception children, to book promotion
and discussion, information literacy skills, or simply time
for children to browse and borrow.
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The gap between the sexes starts early. Statistics from
the Department for Children, Schools and Families
(DCSF) show that girls consistently score higher than
boys in all literacy-related tasks from key stage 1 to key
stage 4. And, of course, performance is closely linked to
attitudes to learning – boys tend to be less enthusiastic
about reading than girls. The reasons for this gender
gap are complex. However, we can reverse this trend if
we approach boys and their reading in a different way
to girls and their reading.
Do your boys have any specific male
reading role models in school and
at home?
Let’s look at the key issues. If you answer yes to
all of the questions below, you probably don’t
notice a difference in girls’ and boys’ reading in
your school. If not, you may want to consider the
advice that accompanies each question. To help
you develop boys’ reading in your school, visit
www. readingchampions. for lots of practical ideas
and resources. Reading Champions is delivered by the
National Literacy Trust on behalf of the DCSF to support
schools in getting more boys reading.
Are your reading activities boy-friendly?
Do you have a good selection of books
and reading materials that appeal
specifically to boys?
As I’m sure you are aware, boys often read for different
reasons to girls and are therefore interested in different
books and reading materials. Investing in boy-friendly
stock will go a long way to hooking in your boys.
If you haven’t already, you may like to think about
buying in some of the great series of fiction books
that are available (including graphic novels), as well
as non-fiction books and magazines which reflect
their interests.
It is important to make sure that boys have contact
with male reading role models – men and boys from
all walks of life who inspire others to read. Reading
Champions also supports schools in involving the male
adults in school and dads/male carers in the project.
If you want to attract boys to take part in reading activity
you need to make sure that activities are not overtly
feminine. For example, boys may be put off taking part
in something if they know they will be sitting down
and talking about books in a reading group, preferring
perhaps to research how they can build something and
then building it.
Do your boys get involved in stock
selection or in planning and running
reading activities?
Achieving all of the above will be a lot easier if the boys
themselves are given a say – in the books you buy,
in the planning and in the delivery of activity. Reading
Champions is based on this premise: putting the boys
in charge. The most successful projects are run by the
boys themselves.
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Special interest groups
interest groups
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English as an additional
language (EAL)
More than 200 different languages are spoken
by children in schools in England. If you have a
large number of EAL children from minority ethnic
communities in your school, you will already be aware
of the benefits and challenges that such diversity
brings. For example, some children and their families
may speak English very well, yet with others there
may be communication barriers. Some children may
come from cultures where attitudes to learning are
very similar to ones here; some may have had very
different experiences.
Your school will undoubtedly already provide for the
individual needs of these children. But it is important
to make sure that encouraging reading for enjoyment
among EAL children is also part of your provision.
You may like to put the following ideas and strategies
into practice.
• Do any of your children go to supplementary schools?
If they do, talk to the people who run these schools
and see if you can establish similar approaches to
encouraging reading.
• Is encouraging reading for pleasure important, or even
acceptable in the children’s home lives? Speak to your
EAL coordinator and parents to find out how reading is
perceived in different communities.
• Ensure that library and classroom reading stock is
representative of the languages spoken in school.
Your local library services may well be able to help
with this, especially if the languages spoken are well
represented in the community.
• Ask your EAL children to be Reading Champions (see
page 31), looking out for opportunities to encourage
other children who speak the same languages as
them to read.
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• Provide opportunities at school for EAL children to
promote reading in their own language. Link into key
national events such as World Book Day (see page 21)
or organise your own languages month.
• Invite storytellers and authors from ethnic minority
communities to inspire all your children to read stories
and books from different cultures.
• Involve the children. Recruit a small group of EAL
children to make a top reading tips leaflet for families,
reflecting the range of community languages within
your school community.
• Enlist the help of bilingual speakers to set up a reading
club using books in other languages.
• Demonstrate that the school values reading materials
in other languages by displaying extracts of popular
books, posters and newspapers all over the school.
Milet is an independent publisher specialising in
bilingual children’s books. Visit
Mantra Lingua publishes a wide range of bilingual
books and CDs. Materials are available in 46 different
languages. Visit
The Reading Connects family involvement toolkit
includes a chapter on supporting families for whom
English is an additional language, which will be useful
for extending these ideas and strategies out to families.
For a wide range of other organisations specialising
in multicultural and dual language texts visit
24/10/08 14:34:57
Contar las historias multiculturales en
la escuela de Charles Dickens
Special interest groups
Case study
Ali Mawle at Charles Dickens Primary School in London tells us about
their dual-language family storytelling sessions.
Charles Dickens is a vibrant, multicultural primary
school in Southwark, London, with 80 per cent of pupils
speaking English as their second (or third) language.
Encouraging storytelling and reading, both at home and
at school, is an effective way to help us involve parents
in their child’s education as well as celebrate our rich
variety of languages and cultures.
Therefore, we launched our dual-language family
storytelling sessions. We specifically run the sessions
with children in the Early Years Foundation Stage to
encourage parental involvement from the first stages of
school life.
Storytelling sessions take place every week, after
school. They are relaxed and informal, starting with time
for families to enjoy a snack before we gather in the
school library.
Each session lasts about 20 minutes and is run by two
adults: a parent and one of the teaching staff. They
follow a similar structure so that the adults involved
know what to expect. This has enabled even the most
timid parents to feel confident enough to get involved.
The sessions run through the spring and summer terms;
the autumn term is dedicated to building relationships
and supporting children and their family members to
settle in. This has been invaluable to the success of
the initiative.
It has been wonderful to see the children bursting with
pride when it is their parent’s turn.
“It made me like being Turkish,” Michael, a Reception
child said. His mother, Esma, added: “I enjoyed reading
a story in Turkish and sharing our language with my
son’s friends. The kids showed a lot of interest and tried
hard to catch the words.”
The response from parents has been amazing. Sarah
Elliot, a parent, enthuses: “The sessions are so fantastic;
it’s such a good opportunity to get to know other
parents and my children love it – they talk about it all
the way home.”
The parent tells or reads a story in their first language
and the teacher then provides the translation. As far as
possible we focus on traditional stories originating from
the culture being celebrated that week and the teacher
and parent meet informally the week before to agree
on their choice.
Beyond this point, each session is slightly different,
often involving practising certain words in the focus
language or discussing aspects of the relevant culture.
Languages represented so far have included Armenian,
Creole, Bengali, Spanish, Mandarin, Yoruba and British
Sign Language.
After the session, there is time for chatting, browsing
and borrowing books to share together at home.
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Year 6 to 7
How can we ensure that children don’t lose interest in
reading when they go on to secondary school? Even
though transition is a complex process, it is undoubtedly
most effective when primary and secondary
schools work closely together to understand each
other’s worlds.
How does reader development fit into it all? A
secondary and feeder primary school with reading for
pleasure positioned right at the heart of their School
Improvement Plans will be in a good position to
encourage effective transition in this area. If this is not
the case, it becomes even more important to make sure
that reading for pleasure projects are integrated into
existing transition units.
Joint staff initiatives
• Joint Inset, involving a secondary school and its key
feeder primary schools, is the best way forward. Make
sure there is a slot which addresses how reading is
developed and promoted in all the schools.
• Work shadowing is a good opportunity for school
librarians/literacy coordinators/teachers to understand
how reading is developed and promoted in each
other’s schools.
Joint pupil initiatives
Joint pupil initiatives are equally as important as those
for the staff as the child should be at the centre of
the transition process. Maximising communication
between Year 6 and Year 7/8 readers is really important.
A possible scheme could involve setting up a buddy
reading scheme (see page 25) between Year 6 and
Year 7 students.
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Information sharing
The need for an effective exchange of information
between your school and secondary schools is key. As
well as sharing information about reading and writing
levels, it is a good idea to set up a system so that a
‘reading for enjoyment profile’ goes with the Year 6
pupil to secondary school.
Family involvement
Where good family involvement in supporting reading
has been achieved at primary school, this information
needs to be passed on as part of the transition process.
Induction day provides the best opportunity for
secondary schools to promote reading to new families.
This subject area is covered in detail in the Reading
Connects family involvement toolkit.
Our favourite practical ideas
Joint Summer Reading Challenge project. Promote
the Summer Reading Challenge in the summer term
and follow this up with a Year 7 celebration event in the
autumn term to reward the pupils that have completed
the challenge.
Legacy reading lists. In the summer term, Year 7
reading ambassadors could create a reading list for
the next year’s intake, explaining why they have made
their choices.
Year 7 Reading Champions talks. In the summer
term arrange visits by the Year 7 Reading Champions
(see page 31) to their old primary school to enthuse the
Year 6 pupils about the reading opportunities they will
have at secondary school.
24/10/08 14:34:59
Case study
Getting arty for book award scheme
Lyn Hopson, librarian at Don Valley School and Performing Arts College
in Doncaster, explains how their transition project gets children excited
about reading at secondary school from an early age.
Our transition units are an important part of the reader
development work that we do. As well as projects
for the Year 6 students, we also strongly believe that
it is important for primary school children to build up
a positive picture of their future secondary school
from as early as Year 3. We have gone some way to
achieving this through our Greenaway book award
transition scheme.
The scheme was first trialled with one of our feeder
schools, Sunnyfields Primary School. Given its success,
we expanded the project and now work with six of our
seven feeder schools. It is, admittedly, a major logistical
exercise, but well worth it.
The scheme works as follows: Don Valley students and
I visit Year 3 classes in our feeder primary schools in
early June and run a session during which our students
read aloud and discuss the books shortlisted for the
Kate Greenaway medal.
Following this session, it is the primary school children’s
turn to come to us. Our art department hosts the Year
3 pupils for a session in which they create collages
based on some of the short-listed Greenaway books.
This is then followed by a tour of our school library.
Our students are great hosts, helping with cutting and
sticking, serving drinks and talking about their own
reading choices and library activities.
Finally, step three of the process involves a joint session
at the local public library, with a treasure-hunt style quiz,
interactive stories and an opportunity for the children to
vote for their favourite book from the Greenaway medal
shortlist. The work from the art session at Don Valley
also goes on display in the public library for the summer,
so that relatives and friends can see their achievements.
These sessions are important in strengthening links
between our schools and the local library service.
The scheme is effective for our school in several ways.
Not only does it support the transition process and
strengthen links with our feeder schools, it also provides
an opportunity to work with our special educational
needs department. As the Greenaway books can be
read by less-able secondary students, they can practise
the books and then confidently read them aloud to the
younger children. There are also clear benefits for the
primary schools. The Year 3 pupils love coming to visit
our school and are thrilled by the stories and quizzes,
as well as the art activities.
The project is a positive learning opportunity for all
of the children involved. However, most importantly,
the scheme is really good fun for everyone involved,
including staff.
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Family involvement
Parents are a child’s first educator and have the
greatest influence on their educational development.
Research shows us that encouraging family reading
should be high on any school’s agenda. The Reading
Connects family involvement toolkit, included in
your welcome pack, provides advice, practical ideas
and signposting to resources on how to encourage
families to make their homes reading homes. It can
also be downloaded from
readingconnects/familytoolkit.html. Below are the key
underpinning principles for working with families, taken
from the toolkit.
hook the dads. The approach should also include
targeting grandparents and siblings to help support
children’s reading.
4. L
ink enjoyment of reading
with achievement
The vast majority of parents want their children to
do well at school. Emphasising the link between
encouraging children to love reading and achievement,
with simple advice about how they can help, can be
used to help families see the importance of getting
involved and what they can do.
1. Work in partnership with families
Parents and wider family members are empowered by
being given responsibility to develop a project. Involve
them in the planning so that they see themselves as
partners in the approach. Use enthusiastic parents and
wider family members to ensure that family-friendly
language is used and to involve other families.
5. Be inclusive in your approach
The school needs to value the reading and literacy that
is a part of different families’ cultures and involve the
local community in its approach.
6. Be aware of parental self-perception
2. Integrate involving families
with reading into the School
Improvement Plan
Engage with parents and the wider family to support
reading as part of the whole-school ethos, involving all
staff, with strong support from the senior management
team. Promoting reading needs to be integrated into as
many family projects as possible, not just those with a
reading focus.
If parents do not believe that they can have an influence
over their child’s education and how well they perform,
they are unlikely to get involved. This is particularly
acute where parents’ basic skills are weak. Work with
families to show how easy it is to offer support to
children and how much of a difference they can make.
The importance of parents reading themselves needs to
be stressed.
3. Target your approaches to suit a range
of family members and different types
of family structures
Planning needs to be flexible, recognising that a
variety of approaches will be needed. It is important
to acknowledge that there are many different types of
families and that it is harder to attract dads to schoolrelated events than mums. The children can be used
to hook the mums, while the mums can be used to
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Bringing books to the parents
Family involvement
Case study
A simple approach to recommending books helped Stanway Primary
School in Essex encourage parents to read aloud to their children.
Rachel Burrage, literacy coordinator, explains.
Our pupil reading survey highlighted that 100 per cent
of our children wanted an adult to read to them more
often. So we set about making this a reality with our
Read Aloud project.
As well as increasing how often teachers read aloud to
the children, we knew we needed to involve parents as
well, and encourage them to read more to their children
at home. A subsequent parent survey established that
while many parents listened to their children read, few
read to their children and those who did were mostly
parents of younger children.
Jacqueline Wilson’s Great books to read aloud was
the inspiration for setting up the Read Aloud project.
The titles recommended in the book were placed
in a box in the school entrance hall and parents and
children were encouraged to choose books together.
The only rule was that parents had to read the books
to the children. The scheme proved an instant success,
with parents and children thoroughly enjoying the
shared experience.
front cover. Parents and children pop into school when
children are dropped off or collected to sign books in or
out. What could be easier?
One parent commented: “Read Aloud has given me the
opportunity to borrow books easily and quickly. I would
love to go to the library more often but I just don’t have
the time. I also now feel that I’m reading the right books
to my child.”
When explaining why she enjoyed the project so much,
a Year 4 child said: “I really enjoy it because it helps my
mum to spend more time with me.”
This project has proved successful because we have
brought the books to the parents. With busy lives,
time to choose books together at the library might
not always be a possibility, but books made so easily
available are readily appreciated. They have also been
important in emphasising to parents that book sharing
is a pleasurable and valuable experience for all children
irrespective of age.
Younger siblings, not yet at school, also wanted to
join in the fun and so extra books were included for
them. To publicly demonstrate the value that the school
places on reading aloud, all staff made their own
recommendations, which were subsequently added to
the box.
To help parents to select books that would suit both
them and their child, we wrote a brief synopsis of the
story and an age guide and placed them inside the
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Public library and School Library Service
Public libraries and School Library Services (SLS) are in
a strong position to help schools in a variety of ways. If
it is not a road down which you have yet ventured, here
are just a few things your local library services can offer:
• Creative activities (often as part of national initiatives
– see page 21) which link in with children’s interests
in exciting ways. Depending on your area, sometimes
libraries can provide outreach services to support you
in running these activities in school
Our favourite practical ideas
The Summer Reading Challenge
(The Reading Agency)
This national scheme challenges children to read six
books over the summer holidays, with lots of collectable
incentives and creative events.
• A range of books and types of books, including fiction
and non-fiction (and of course, other materials such as
DVDs, newspapers, magazines etc)
Chatterbooks (The Reading Agency)
A nationally-coordinated reading group network for four
to 12-year-olds. This is an adaptable model which offers
training opportunities for schools and can be especially
helpful for target groups such as reluctant readers or
under-achieving children.
• Staff expertise and book knowledge to support your
colleagues in delivering the curriculum and to motivate
your children to read more frequently and more widely
Carnegie or Kate Greenaway award (CILIP)
Your local library services may run shadowing events
and groups as part of these national book awards.
• Support for families, with reading events, adult learning
sessions and advice on which reading materials to
Parents’ evening
You may wish to invite your librarian, from either the
public library or SLS, to parents’ evenings to talk about
the services they offer.
• Getting children involved in planning and running local
reading projects such as a local children’s book award
A good relationship between schools and public
libraries is mutually beneficial and can have a big effect
on how much children read. To find out more about
building strong partnerships with your local library
services, visit the Enjoying Reading website:
Continuing Professional Development opportunities
Librarians have an extensive knowledge of children’s
literature. Schools may like to consider a CPD slot for
the librarian during their Insets.
Useful websites
Their Reading Futures:
The Reading Agency:
Young Cultural Creators:
Creative Partnerships:
Reading The Game programmes:
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Community involvement
24/10/08 14:35:05
Working in partnership
Working in partnership with other schools and
local organisations can help you to develop more
ambitious reading activities and promote community
cohesion. Sharing the workload and cost, as well as
expertise and good practice, is mutually beneficial for
everyone involved.
out of it, as well as the benefits for the children. Below
are some suggestions for collaboration.
Working in partnership with
other schools
• Sponsor a reading event
Your school may already be part of a Primary Strategy
Learning Network which has a specific focus on reader
development as part of an authority-wide focus. If not,
this may be a route you want to explore with six to eight
other primary schools. For more information visit www.
networks. Alternatively, why not tap into other existing
networks that your school is a part of to promote
reading, for example, an extended schools network.
If you do not have an existing network to work with,
you could set one up for the purposes of a specific
reading project. This could work especially well if you
collaborate with your local library. Below are some
examples of possible projects with other schools:
• Cross-school buddying with primary or
secondary schools
• A local book award
• Online network – set up networks with schools
anywhere in the world
• Joint author visits
• Donation of books and reading materials for the
school library
• Allowing for volunteers to come and read with the
children during work (and school) hours
• Donation of prizes for a reading competition (for
example, family swimming passes)
Working with community organisations
There are a range of community organisations and
services in your community that you could link up with.
Sports clubs. Many sports clubs (for example,
football, rugby, cricket) have community officers and
programmes which support schools through creative
learning opportunities. They work particularly well with
targeted groups of children, for whom sport is a good
hook for learning. The National Literacy Trust’s Reading
The Game website has lots of information about these
kinds of projects, as well as advice for contacting your
local clubs. Visit
Local public services. Work with local community
services, such as the police force or firefighters, and
get individuals to feature in reading posters or to speak
during assemblies about reading.
Supplementary schools. Join forces with
supplementary schools in the area to help ensure
students get positive messages about reading from
whichever schools they attend.
Working with local businesses
Most companies will have a corporate social
responsibility (CSR) strategy which could result in a
local company donating money to your school reader
development work, or offering gifts in kind. Why not
contact local bookshops, retailers or businesses to see
if they want to work with your school? Make sure you
take some concrete ideas to them, ranging from high to
low-level engagement. Also, highlight what they will get
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St Stephen’s café reading project
Androulla Charalambous, family services manager and Pam Curniffe,
learning mentor, at St Stephen’s Primary School and Children’s Centre
in Lambeth, describe their café reading group.
We began by talking to parents informally about reading
at home and we discovered that many families did not
see reading as a priority, not having time to fit it into
their busy schedules. We also found out that a large
percentage of families were not members of their
local library.
By thinking about how we could help families fit reading
into everyday life, we had a great idea when walking
through Stockwell one day. We noticed that many of
our families would meet socially in the local café after
picking up their children from school. What a wonderful
sight, children and parents engaging, smiling and
chatting, with lots of laughter.
This is how the café reading idea sprang to life,
incorporating reading and social experiences through
the use of the library near the school and the local
café. It was also realised with funding support from the
Centre for British Teachers.
Community involvement
Case study
The project’s overarching aim is for families to see
reading as a fun, shared experience, to engage in
co-operative learning and use each other’s skills to
improve everyone’s literacy levels.
Over the two years of running the project, its popularity
has grown, as have the levels of achievement and
engagement in reading.
One particular boy, who refused to engage in reading
activities at school or at home, through careful
intervention and participation in the project has now
reached the national reading level for his age.
His mum was very worried that his only interest was
playing with cars. Together we used that interest in
cars to develop his love of books. We began by using
internet sites to research cars, then moved onto looking
at information books about cars, before finally moving
on to fiction books that had cars in them. The school, as
well as his mum, are very pleased with the progress he
has made. She said:
Sessions run after school each week, beginning with a
story/reading session in the local library. This is followed
“He is happy to share books with me now, and now the
by a story-based activity which encompasses early
reading strategies, art, writing and oral fluency, but most books are about everything. He loves books. He wants
me to read all the time.”
importantly, a real hands-on, fun reading experience.
The second part of the session involves going to the
local café to share the borrowed books from the library
over a cake and a coffee. This time also gives parents
the opportunity to ask questions and gain ideas on
how they can support their child’s reading achievement
and how they might improve their own literacy skills.
We have even signposted some parents to adult
literacy classes.
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The reading
Costa Book Award
(winners announced)
Volunteers Week
(usually the first full week
beginning with a Friday)
National Storytelling Week
(first full week)
SHINE festival
(30 June - 4 July)
The Orange Prize
(winners announced)
World Book Day
(first Thursday of month)
World Storytelling Day
(spring equinox)
International Children’s Book Day (2 April)
July / August
National Summer Reading Challenge
(throughout the school summer holidays)
CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway
Children’s Book Awards
(winners announced)
National Share a Story Month
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CSV Make a Difference Day
International Literacy Day
(8 September)
Family Learning Week
Roald Dahl Day
(13 September)
International School Library Day
(first Monday in October)
European Day of Languages
(26 September)
Black History Month
Early Years Book Awards
(29 September)
The Man Booker Prize
(winners announced)
National Tell-a-Story Day
National Children’s Book Week
(first full week of the month)
The Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize
National Schools’ Film Week
(first full week of the month)
Everybody Writes Day
(end of October)
National Poetry Day
(Thursday of the first full week of the month)
The Blue Peter Book Prize
Parents’ Week
(middle of the month)
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What Reading
Connects schools say:
“We are enthusiastic users of the Reading Connects website, constantly
looking at schools in other local authorities to ‘borrow’ ideas for developing
reading in our school.”
“Reading Connects has helped us to think about our school-based initiatives,
like parent groups and reading circles, in a more coherent way. It links with
many aspirations contained within our School Improvement Plan and Every
Child Matters. Promoting reading for pleasure is key to raising standards; it is
the only guaranteed way of ensuring children and young people continue to
be lifelong learners.”
“The audit process was in itself really useful. I thought we already did quite a
lot to promote reading for pleasure in our school, but the audit gave me new
ideas and inspiration.”
Reading for pleasure is the key to lifelong learning. Schools with a real
culture of reading will be able to give their pupils the key to learning
independently so that they can fulfil their potential. Reading Connects
offers schools excellent resources and ideas for developing a reading
culture and I would encourage all schools to consider becoming a Reading
Connects school.
Jim Knight, Minister of State for Schools and Learning
Reading Connects is delivered by the National Literacy Trust on behalf of the Department for
Children, Schools and Families. Email [email protected] or call 020 7820 6267
The National Literacy Trust is a registered charity, no. 1116260, and a company limited by guarantee, no. 5836486. Registered in
England and Wales. Registered address: 68 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1RL
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