Maintaining Reading for Pleasure is essential. We are all facing new challenges this term as we adapt to operating within the many guidelines and restrictions currently imposed on our school communities. Facilitating Reading for Pleasure is always an essential element of our role as educators but now, more than ever it is a vital part of supporting children through these unusual circumstances. Children will be experiencing the COVID 19 situation very differently. But aren’t we always providing for a range of children with different life experiences, different home circumstances, different interests and reading levels, so actually how much has really changed? What is worth considering at this time is what we are offering children and ensuring the reading experience remains accessible – both the communal and the solitary.
Here are some ideas to consider
Reading Aloud – probably the single most effective activity you can do is to share a novel with your class. Choose a title that really appeals to you. Try and introduce the children to something new, whether it is a new author or a title they are unlikely to come across themselves. Read it first if you can. Relax and read with confidence. Draw your audience in. Enjoy! Try to avoid excessive deconstruction and questioning. If a question arises and a natural discussion follows, great, but the experience should be first and foremost pleasurable and engaging. The benefits will manifest themselves later – renewed interest in books, confidence in discussion, wider reading repertoires, improved writing. Each day should provide ample opportunities for reading aloud. Outside the class novel reading time, pop in a poem at every opportunity, read aloud non-fiction before or during a history, science or geography lesson.
Whole Class Reading – children having their own copy of a text is of course an ideal and for many a luxury but if you do have the funds to do this, it is another solution to the sharing issue. If you are looking to purchase new sets, you may be interested in our Take One Book selection – as the books included all have an indepth teaching sequence and online resources.
Books for your bubble – this situation cannot and must not prevent children from reading alone. Whilst we may not be able to let children browse the library shelves in quite the same way as we could earlier in the year, selecting books for class libraries that can be quarantined is a good way to maintain the supply of choice in a safe way. If you haven’t seen the Great School Libraries Wakelet, there are some excellent ideas regarding book usage post lockdown.
Short stories – If allowing books home is unfeasible opting for a selection of quick reads and short story collections will ensure children can still have the pleasure of reading any entire story.
Online book selection– If you are lucky enough to have an up to date fully functioning library management system this can be used to great effect as a method of children selecting books remotely.
If you use our The Reading Journey resource children can remotely browse a wide variety of formats, genre and themes in both story and nonfiction. The app also offers them agency to plot their own reading journey and allows you to view at a glance the breadth of their reading and their preferences
Subject matter – for many children the reading experience itself will support their wellbeing. Having access, choice and agency are still vital elements of Reading for Pleasure. That said some consideration to subject matter would be pertenant under the circumstances. For some children knowledge will dispel any concerns they may be having; books that deal with anxiety and encourage bravery will support those children with insecurities and confidence issues. For some, funny books and the fantasy genre will offer a means of escaping the real world. I highlighted some key titles in each of these areas in the Bounce Back blogs earlier in the Summer. There are also many ideas for drawing together books to encourage wider reading. Display plays a key part in supporting the reading culture in your school. It is a vehicle for inclusivity and empathy; it enables engagement and choice.
Go Outside! Regardless of whether or not you have a Forest School or gardening club, take reading outside. Our Reading Gladiator groups have enormous fun holding their sessions in the fresh air (and even in the snow!)
Maintaining Reading for Pleasure is the key to sustaining and enriching the lives of the children in our care. Books are a versatile weapon against the effects of this strange situation we find ourselves in. Use them at every opportunity to support, to inform to entertain and to devour.