Free books make reading a 'can and do' activity

23rd May 2008 at 01:00
Giving free children's books to primary teachers has helped them ensure their pupils gain a love of reading and writing

Giving free children's books to primary teachers has helped them ensure their pupils gain a love of reading and writing.

The Power of Reading project, run by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education in London, helps teachers find out about recent children's books, and gives them ideas on how to use them in class.

The project was launched after the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study found that 10-year-old children in England were among those least likely to enjoy reading. The course gives teachers a set of 10 children's books, which can include works such as Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, and The Garbage King by Elizabeth Laird, training in key teaching approaches, and opportunities to meet and listen to authors.

Results from some of the 286 schools and 455 children involved in the first two years show the project has raised teachers' expectations and improved children's attitudes towards reading.

A survey of 311 of the children at the start of the project, in October 2005, found that 57 per cent classed their attitude towards reading as "can and do". The other options were, "can but don't", "can't but try", and "can't and don't". By the end of the school year, 79 per cent were "can and do" children. The change in attitude was most marked among boys.

The project may also improve reading test results. In Cumbria in 2006 and 2007, scores in English at key stage 2 show children in Power of Reading schools improved faster than average for the authority. It is thought this is partly due to children being more interested in reading.

Aidan O'Kelly, Year 4 teacher at Lauriston Primary in Hackney, east London, said: "It is the best course I've ever done. This is about approaching literature in a creative way, about entering into the spirit of it. One book was Krindlekrax, by Philip Ridley - it is chock-a-block with characters and ideas.

"The impact on children's writing is incredible, and it becomes more vivid because they have something to write about."

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