I recently read an article on The Guardian website, which outlined the findings of a recent study on reading – results showed that reading for pleasure is more important to a child’s educational achievement than their family’s wealth or social class. But my friends who are teachers frequently stress the difficulty that they have with encouraging pupils to read – and here I don’t mean reading the set texts required by the curriculum or for an exam; I mean reading for the sheer enjoyment of it. So what more can be done to promote reading amongst children of all ages?
At the Nosy Crow conference last September, I met Tracey Corderoy, a fantastic children’s author who travels around the country organising ‘activity days’ for her young readers. She showed us how she would literally bring her stories to life by carrying costumes (allowing children to dress up as characters from her books), arts and crafts materials and other props to her interactive book days held at Waterstones around the country. The results so far have been more than encouraging – children are engaged and excited. Younger siblings often come along and get carried away in the fun of it themselves. It would be great if more authors followed Tracy’s lead and met their readers face to face.
The National Literacy Trust does a lot of work to promote reading amongst children and adults. I’ve recently heard about their ‘paired reading’ campaign in which older children are partnered with younger or less confident readers to not only help them with reading but also share their favourite books. I think the key issue that needs to be tackled here is the perception of frequent readers as bookworms or nerds – reading doesn’t have to be an isolated activity. Much can be done to make it sociable and fun.
The Reading Agency is another charity which coordinates Chatterbooks groups run in libraries and schools. On their website, there are tips on setting up reading groups for teenagers and details of their Instragrammer in Residence project which involve authors making inspirational videos about books of their choice – a great innovative idea!
But perhaps the most challenging task for teachers is encouraging parents to help their children with reading. Often, the parents themselves don’t enjoy reading, or aren’t sure how to spark up their child’s interest in books. The Discover Centre is a story museum which has some engaging tips to help families enjoy books. I’ve also found that children’s librarians are a great source of inspiration – an example is Janet Pamela Noble, who writes regular reviews of the latest exciting children’s fiction, absorbing both parents and children in her love of reading.
If you have any of your own tips on encouraging reading for pleasure, please share!