Teachers' book club helps boost boys' reading ability

21st May 2010 at 01:00
Project promoting kids' fiction has narrowed the gender gap in literacy achievement, research reveals

Giving teachers contemporary children's books to read for themselves has helped them to narrow the gap between boys' and girls' achievement in literacy, research has found.

The latest results from the Power of Reading project show boys making better progress and emerging as more motivated readers.

The initiative, run by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, in London, has involved 900 schools, 1,300 teachers and 35,000 children over the past five years.

Teachers are given eight books to read as a way of enthusing them about up-to-date children's fiction. They then get a further 12 books to use in the classroom and receive training in teaching them.

An analysis of the 200809 results, involving four local authorities, shows children progressing by three national curriculum sub-levels in reading over the year - twice the expected rate of progress.

Rates of progression for boys are equalling or exceeding those of girls. In two of the local authorities that took part in 200809, 5 per cent more boys made two sub-levels of progress with their reading.

The research findings are due to be discussed at a conference on the project in London today.

One in five teachers told researchers that they had come across a "life-changing" book on the course. These were books which transformed the attitude of a non-reading child, and nine out of ten of those children were boys.

Olivia O'Sullivan, project director, said: "There are books which teachers have mentioned as being a life-changing moment for children on the project."

Just 16 per cent of the 210 teachers who participated last year and returned questionnaires said they had a good knowledge of children's books at the start of the course - by the end this figure was 95 per cent.

Teachers are encouraged to use drama, music, dance and drawing to take pupils into the world of the story and characters.

Ms O'Sullivan said: "Teachers have the freedom to be more creative and children really respond to that through their writing. Because teachers are more fired up, the children really engage.

"This is something that people want to do rather than are told to do. We're a charity and not funded by anybody to do this sort of professional development. Schools chose to do it and pay for it."

The project costs schools #163;1,850 for one teacher and then #163;750 for each additional teacher.

FOUR PAGE-TURNERS

Years 1 and 2

Traction Man is Here by Mini Grey

Man on the Moon: A Day in the Life of Bob by Simon Bartram

Years 3 and 4

Varjak Paw by SF Said

Years 5 and 6

There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom by Louis Sachar.

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