It will surprise few of us that recent research has found a direct link between how often a child’s more reads for pleasure and their child’s performance in school reading and writing assessments (Inequality and the home learning environment: predictions about seven year-olds’ language and literacy (University of Warwick) Article published in the British Educational Research Journal, volume 38 number 5 pages 859-879).
What is perhaps surprising is that, given this fairly predictable correlation, little is done to encourage parents to read. Sporadic national campaigns are run, usually linked to a list of recommended books and these are briefly high profile in the media. But all too soon, the focus on reading dissolves and reading returns to its marginalized status. I can’t think of any other process where research could demonstrate such a clear and beneficial impact on pupil attainment, but there is still little concerted encouragement to parents to read, either for pleasure or the benefit of themselves and their children.
The National Literacy Trust and the Reading Association do their best to keep reading in the public eye, but against a backdrop of library closures and in the face of massive publicity for non-text based entertainment, this feels like too little.
The Rooted in Reading project is based around 13 different reading passports, all designed to promote reading for pleasure. Most of these are aimed at school pupils, from Reception right through to A level students. Two are specifically designed to encourage parents to share read with their children. Sharing Stories and Rhymes is aimed at the parents of pre-school age children and Reading Together at parents of primary school pupils. Both provide ideas on how to share books and come with a sheet of stickers that can be used when a book has been read and both the child and parent have noted their responses to it. For very young children this may be a scribble but over time it will become a drawing and then words and finally a written comment as the passport becomes a wonderful memento of precious time spent sharing books. All the passports are available from the on-line bookshop at http://www.nate.org.uk. At £16 for 50 copies they are a really economical way for nurseries, pre-schools and primary schools to demonstrate their commitment to reading and parental engagement and this is sure to go down well with Ofsted. More importantly, an early love of reading will be inculcated.
Rooted in Reading has gained a lot of attention in secondary schools but these two passports have the potential to have just as much impact and provide opportunities for joined up working across all age ranges. Indeed, the Reader’s Passport is widely used by adults to chart the details of their own reading journeys, perhaps linked to their reading for a Book Group. So the project has the potential to help promote reading for pleasure across the whole community. We know reading is beneficial – not just for those who do it but for their children too! This timely research reminds us of the importance of promoting this quiet, reflective but very powerful practice.