“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; only children who have not yet found the right book.” Frank Serafini
- “How can I encourage my child to read?”
- “My child isn’t challenging themselves when they read – they only read books by one author, or from one genre – what can I do?”
- “Do you have a reading list?”
Hopefully, the information below will help answer these questions.
As English teachers, we all love reading, and want to encourage a similar lifelong love of Literature in our students. We also all know that confident and secure reading skills are fundamental to academic success, but we recognize that developing and encouraging a culture where regular reading habits are standard practice, as well as actively enjoyable, can be challenging. However, we are determined to try.
What IS English Teachers are doing to support students’ reading:
Developing and encouraging reading has been a main development area for the new Year 7 English curriculum, students now have personal copies of the texts, and we are reading a wider variety of genres. In addition, all homework set in the first term has a private reading focus. There is a ‘Reading Record’ page in the student diaries, and we have also been using the ‘Great Reading Race” certificate system to encourage and monitor the reading of both fiction and non-fiction texts, requiring a parental signature for each ‘race’ completed. The first three students moving onto the more challenging races in each form will also be photographed and will appear in the newsletter. Students have a timetabled library lesson every two weeks (they can, of course also visit the library before and after school, as well as during break-times and lunch), and the librarians work very hard to ensure our book collection remains varied and current by offering Classic and popular fiction choices, as well as a range of magazines and daily newspapers.
Next term we have an inter-House ‘Battle of the Books’ competition for year 7 and 8 (with an inter-School competition for year 9 students), and students in each house are busily reading the books in preparation for this. Year 7 and 8 students are also in the process of planning their ‘Creative Book Response’ where they can use their own talents and interests to respond to a book they have read this year. Previous year’s responses have included original songs performed on the guitar, a full set of cushions representing all of the Houses from Hogwarts, graphic novel style chapter interpretations, 3D models and board games. Students have also written wonderfully imaginative extra chapters, authentic book reviews and code for computer games.
Year 9 and 10 students can choose “Brilliant Books” as part of their Elements courses. This is a book club where students take responsibility for ‘hosting a book’ – which means they lead the weeks session, introducing activities, questions and tasks they have designed around their book. ‘Brilliant Books’ also shadows the Carnegie Medal nominees, ultimately voting for our own “Island School Best Book Award.”
Older students have the opportunity to join the ‘Monthly Book Club,’ jointly led by year 12 students and English staff – the first meeting is on December the 6th – where the Booker nominated A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki will be discussed.
What you can do to support your child’s reading:
- Encourage your child to set aside a time for reading. Do this yourself so your child can see you as a reader. Exchange books with friends and other family members.
- Show an interest in what your child is reading. Ask them to recommend books for you to read.
- If your child is in year 7, ask them what books they are reading as part of working towards their next ‘Reading Race’ certificate. Regularly sign their sections to allow them to move onto the next race.
- If your child is in year 7, log onto their ARR, find the ‘Reading Review’ section and read their personal reading evaluation. Use their responses to discuss their reading preferences.
- Help your child understand that there are different types of reading – reading to complete school tasks can be about understanding concepts, but reading for pleasure should be just that. Encourage your child to choose age and interest appropriate books; for every student reading George Orwell’s ‘1984’ because they want to explore a critique of Communism via dystopian fiction, there are eight students reading it because it’s on a Classics list somewhere, with little (if any) enjoyment or understanding.
- Discuss the author’s craft with your child, focusing on the way the author has written the text, the language they used, the way they have chosen to present their content, the way they use words, the reasons why the book did or didn’t appeal.
- Encourage your child to read current affairs magazines, comment on articles and discuss them with your child.
- Encourage your child to join or start a book club; sometimes these operate from the local library, or alternatively join online book clubs.
- Don’t worry if they are reading their 17th Darren Shan novel, if your child is not a very keen reader, then at least they are still reading, and keeping to regular reading habits. More keen readers will move on of their own accord, as once they start to recognize the same plot developments reoccurring, the books will no longer be as thrilling. Stopping your child from reading these books can make them refuse to read anything else, or alternatively, they may not like, or be ready for what they have moved on to. Both of these approaches are fast ways to turn your child off reading.
- Read the literary section of the newspaper, which discusses bestsellers, up-coming books, authors and literary events.
- Attend bookshop functions by visiting authors.
- Use the library page on the ISLE and the English Extension page to explore recommended reading lists for each year group.
- Visit the following websites for more ideas, book lists and recommendations: