3. Encouraging individual reading
Teachers should be good role models for pupils. Your pupils are likely to become more interested in reading if they see you reading. Try to make time each day (or at least three times a week if that is all you can manage) for you and your pupils to read silently in class. You can adapt this depending on the age and stage of your pupils. For example, young pupils could look at a picture book with a partner or listen to someone reading with them in small groups.
Extensive or sustained silent reading (SSR) helps pupils become used to reading independently and at their own pace (which may be faster or slower than some of their classmates). The focus is on the whole story (or on a whole chapter if the story is a very long one) and on pupils’ personal responses to what they read. SSR can be done with a class reader, with a number of different books that pupils have chosen from a classroom or school library, or with newspapers and magazines (if pupils can manage these) – see Resource 4: Sustained silent reading.
Case Study 3 and the Key Activity suggest ways to assess pupils’ progress as readers. (See also Key Resource: Assessing learning.)
Case Study 3: Teachers’ experience of sustained silent reading
A workshop was held in Naivasha, Kenya, to introduce teachers to sustained silent reading (SSR). It was explained that one of the main aims of SSR is to create a ‘culture of reading’ among pupils.
Teachers were invited to participate in SSR and then to reflect on their experiences. Each teacher chose a book or magazine and read silently for 20 minutes. After this, they had ten minutes of discussion with three fellow readers about what they had read and how they responded to the text. When they returned their books and magazines, they signed their names in the book register and, next to their names, wrote a brief comment about the text.
These teachers decided that SSR is useful for developing concentration and self-discipline, for learning new vocabulary and new ideas and for providing content for discussions with other pupils. They thought their pupils would enjoy this activity and be proud when they finished reading a book. Some teachers decided to try this with a small group at a time and rotate around the class because they only had a few books in the class.
Key Activity: Sustained silent reading
- Collect interesting books, magazines and stories that are at an appropriate level for your pupils. Involve pupils and community in collecting suitable texts or use books your pupils have made in class (see Resource 4).
- Set aside 15–20 minutes every day or three times a week for sustained silent reading. Ask pupils to choose a text to read silently. Read yourself as they read.
- At the end, if they have not finished their books, ask them to use bookmarks so they can easily find their places next time.
- Ask each pupil to make or contribute to a reading record (see Resource 4).
- Every week, ask pupils, in small groups, to tell each other about what they have been reading.
- Move round the groups to listen to what pupils are saying. Check their reading records.
Do pupils enjoy this activity and are they making progress with their reading?
How can you help more?