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Reading for pleasure or purpose?

February 4th| Emily Weston

Often, reading in the classroom is seen for purpose. We know, especially in certain year groups, that children are going to be tested on their decoding, vocabulary, inference, scanning and application. It is important that the children are capable of completing these in a test – we want them to do as well as they possibly can.

But what we do need to ensure, that it isn’t at the detriment of their own enjoyment of reading!

I love trying to find new ways to encourage reading for pleasure throughout our school; I’m a huge advocate for finding ways to help children discover the wonder of reading across different year groups, but I’m conscious that children should also have choice and ownership of their own literary journey.

The most important thing to remember is children need CHOICE. Choice in what they read. Choice in when they read. Choice in how they read. They need to know that they will be supported in their reading choices and guided, not led, down the bookish footpath.

Guiding readers is different to leading them in two ways. First, leading indicates that we are dictating what children can read. Guiding allows children to make choices but we show them the other options that are available to them which informs their choices even more.

If they only like certain authors, or book genres we don’t need to stop them reading these. But, it is our job to recommend and show them what other titles and writers they might enjoy – if they’re only exposed to one type of book they won’t know the other brilliant choices they could have. It’s okay if they decide that they’re not ready to move on – but they’ll be adequately informed for when they are!

Secondly, leading reading means stepping children through books; instructing and dissecting books. Obviously, there is a place for this sometimes! I know I have to do lessons like this to really help children analyse and pick apart narratives, information and poetry – it helps not only reading skills but also their writing. Alongside this though, we should be providing really open-ended exploratory lessons.

These really allow children to put their key skills – the ones they learnt in those lessons we have spent instructing – into action, but also discover what they want to know about the text. Let them see how differently one text can be interpreted; what feelings it can invoke; how different a character, map or monster might be to each individual.

It doesn’t always have to be a text. Use:

  • Song lyrics
  • Where’s Wally
  • Artwork
  • Picture Books with no words
  • Graphic Novels

As ‘Reading Guides’ we need to show children that, yes, reading has a purpose. But it is also an activity which can give us pleasure.

View all posts by: Emily Weston
Categories: Teaching Ideas

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