The BBC website published a short article yesterday on the fall in numbers of young people reading for pleasure after primary years. It’s not particularly headline news as we’ve seen this pattern emerging for a while, but it does help to keep this issue high on the radar (or ‘readar’ if you’re into less-than-average word puns).
This year, in addition to timetabled sessions in our reading lounge (once every two weeks during English lessons), we have also trialled an additional regular independent reading session for Year 7 students. They are not long enough really, but they are a step in the right direction towards greater opportunities for reading for pleasure. With one eye already looking to September, we are in discussion about how to consolidate and build on this year’s successes, to make sure this priority remains a real focus for our students.
We have a mixed demographic that boasts students from a wide range of cultures and backgrounds – highlighting a real range of reading experiences and habits too. Some students are fortunate enough to have regular support from home; others not. Some have parents who are capable, eager readers. Others have parents who cannot read at all or do not have the finances to buy books of interest at home. I’m quite sure we have a growing responsibility to develop systems that support students – and their parents – with reading, both at school and at home. This might be in the form of purchasing books, running workshops to demonstrate good practice, providing regular opportunities to celebrate reading, and so on.
I realise the risk of blogging about reading when you have experts like Doug Lemov (@Doug_Lemov) and Robert J. Marzano (@robertjmarzano) who have offered so much in this field. I did just think I could offer the checklist of ten points below that I’ve started thinking about, which we will look to implement next academic year. It’s a working document, so do feel free to have a look and throw any comments or ideas my way.
The words ‘checklist’ and ‘pleasure’ are not two words you’d put together often, but I do believe it’s crucial to have structures in place to scaffold independent reading.