6 Using your enhanced knowledge of children’s reading practices
Having developed your knowledge of children’s reading practices and preferences, it is important to make use of this to support the development of positive reader identities. It is not enough to find out and create displays around the school of favourite authors or everyone’s 24-hour reads as this can result in little more than wallpapering. Instead, as an educator you will want to analyse and then summarise what you have learnt from using strategies such as surveys, book blankets or reading rivers and then take actions, as shown in Figure 6. This might include widening the range of texts available in class, ordering a weekly comic, allowing children to read online during free reading time, drawing on the children’s interest in Minecraft manuals and getting to know a wider range of the children’s popular texts. Most significantly, however, you will come to know, understand and appreciate the uniqueness of each individual reader better.
By developing your knowledge of texts and of individual readers, you will be far better positioned to make tailored recommendations to individual children. Knowing the texts and knowing your readers matters if you want to nurture children who choose to read regularly and widely in their own free time.
Activity 5 Focusing on two less engaged readers
Identify two readers in your class who can read but tend to avoid it and appear disengaged and distracted.
Observe them over the course of a day or two and make notes on their reading behaviours and engagement as readers. Then, select and use one of the strategies noted in Section 5 to enable you to find out more about them as readers. You may choose to use:
- book blankets
- 24 hour reads
- reading rivers.
Once completed, look at your notes and the children’s responses or collages, and then meet with them to talk about what they have drawn and written. Decide what actions you might take to build on your new knowledge. Will you draw in one of their friends, go to the library together, suggest a number of potentially relevant texts or even buy a new text that appeals to them?
You might have noticed that by finding out about the children’s reading practices at home, or observing the texts that intrigued them in a book blanket activity you changed your perception of these children as readers. To build on this, you might like to consider how you will monitor any changes in these children’s engagement with reading as you seek to support the development of more positive and engaged reader identities.
Many schools find it challenging to find sufficient books to support children’s different reading journeys and interests. For example, one child may be fascinated by ferrets as they have one for a pet, but the school library has nothing relevant; another may be enjoying the first book in a series, but the rest of the set cannot be afforded at that time. Make maximum use of your local library to borrow books, comics, magazines and so forth to support young readers’ interests. Local library provision differs, but many local libraries have superb e-book collections, will send their librarians out to schools, and have very considerable knowledge to help you. The books you can borrow for pleasurable reading and reading across the curriculum are invariably excellent value compared to buying new books. The texts will be in good condition, widely chosen and worth reading. In addition, local library services run additional schemes and can connect children to the UK-based Teachers Reading Challenge at the same time and share your reading journey with the children.for children. You too could join the
If you would like further ideas about enhancing the books you offer, then you can borrow from the ideas at Finding and Funding Quality Books.