Last week St Michael’s participated in the popular Readathon week with the simple objective of encouraging children and staff to read more. Readathon 2019 is all about giving children the opportunity and space to develop their own love of reading. At St Michael’s we understand the importance of reading, from hard copy books, rather than solely via devices. Research has suggested that children who spend time reading from a book rather than a tablet have a higher level of literacy and continue to read into adulthood, compared to those that don’t. This blog post aims to outline how we encourage reading at St Michael’s, beyond the above initiatives, and develop the reading habits of children throughout the school.
In the Nursery and Pre-Prep Department children take part in many varied activities to celebrate their love of reading including choosing a character to dress up as from a favourite book whilst sharing this text and their favourite characters/parts with their peers during a Big Book Breakfast. Each child in the Pre-Prep Department reads an appropriately levelled book several times a week. Members of staff across the whole school and the parent body are invited to share their love of reading with the children, sharing their own childhood stories and visiting authors are often invited to talk to the children about their creations. Year 2 enjoy an annual visit to the library itself and the Reception children are given books from the Time to Read Books campaign run each year.
In the Junior Department, children are heard to read at least once a week, either in groups or individually with some pupils being heard to read daily as required. Each pupil has a reading book that they are expected to read with their parents, discussing the text as part of the nightly reading. They are encouraged to try different types of library books from both the fiction and non-fiction sections of the library and the library of books in their resource rooms. The Weekly News magazine is delivered to the school, and the children enjoy keeping up to date with this and other magazines such as the National Geographic for Kids.
For World Book Day (UK) the children in the Junior Department pupils are encouraged to share storytelling with their class, year group and department with a Story Telling Competition. This encourages the children to really engage with the book and helps their confidence in performing to others. Further initiatives enjoyed include Reading Bingo, and extreme reading, where the pupils are asked to find extreme places to read their books at home.
During English lessons, senior pupils all have at least one reading lesson each week where they are reading and discussing a class reader – so all pupils read and study at least three books thoroughly every year in class. All novels studied open up opportunities for extended learning covering many subject areas such as Science, History, English, RS and Geography. We also encourage and present book reviews, both written and oral and there is always support in choosing a new book, if a child needs it.
Pupils know that books will be ordered in for them if we do not have what they want and they can make recommendations to the librarian, which will then be purchased. The library stock is constantly updated and replenished, and a sizeable quantity of books are purchased every year. This ensures that our pupils have access to a vast array of literature, ranging from pre-19th-century classics to the most recently released books.
Furthermore, all senior pupils are required to have a library book with them at all school at all times. This policy aims to encourage reading at opportune times including wet breaks and available prep time.
Books are regularly reviewed and updated to ensure they are appropriate for the age and reading age of the children as well as interesting to choose. Children also have the opportunity to contribute to their class libraries through our initiative of the ‘Birthday Book’ where children bring a book to school for their parent or carer to read and share with their class. From a young age, storytelling and reading with children is incredibly important. It allows the child to develop language skills, build their vocabulary, exercising your children’s brain and introducing them to foreign cultures, learning styles and topics.
Children are exposed to a vast amount of literature whilst at St Michael’s. The reading levels and interests of pupils here is fantastic and often very advanced. Reading is an integral part of life at school and that will always be the case. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our office to arrange a meeting with me or a relevant teacher.