How to Engage Children with Reading

Research from the National Literacy Trust suggests that more could be done to engage children with reading at secondary school level. How can we help young people to foster a love of books?

thrive approach, Jacqueline Wilson, secondary reading, primary reading, young people reading, classroom, libraries, Engage Children with ReadingDame Jacqueline Wilson is a popular name in most classrooms, with over 40 million copies of her books sold in the UK alone. The writer urges schools to make time for explorative reading, rather than using books as “testing mechanisms”. Setting aside time for reading books that aren’t necessarily associated with the curriculum will allow immersive experiences that children might not otherwise be able to access. If teachers do chose to engage children with reading, it may have a significant impact on their academic progress.

Hypothetically, setting time aside for reading sounds wonderful, but how can you successfully incorporate it into the curriculum? In her Tes article, Freya O’Dell shares her top tips for positively shaping students’ experiences with books.

In her first point, she explains the importance of DEAR – Drop everything and read. DEAR is being adopted by plenty of schools to help teachers engage children with reading. Freya mentions that in English, she starts each lesson with 10 minutes of reading, as well as holding library lessons every two weeks. This has impacted on other areas of learning, with children taking out books without being prompted, a practise which was commended by Ofsted. The idea that reading can be slotted into other lessons, as and when appropriate, has proved to be a great way for children to read whilst maintaining their engagement with the curriculum.

Following on from this, she mentions the benefits of classroom libraries. Whilst a main library is fundamental to a school’s literacy plan, integrating mini-libraries into classrooms allows pupils to readily access books. Freya has noticed that this has increased reading amongst pupils. It also allows children and parents alike to donate their own texts, further becoming engaged with this communal learning resource.

Teachers can get involved with practical activities in order to bring literature into focus. Introducing interest surveys and reading logs at the beginning of the academic year can work extremely effectively. Pupils can note down the sort of books they might be interested in to allow teachers to source appropriate texts, as well as allowing them to really think deeply about what they’d like to read. This autonomy can profoundly increase children’s attitude to reading. Logs can also be produced in order for children to note down their progress. This has been shown to create a more focused approach, mapping out exactly what is being read.

Following on from this, staff may also like to share their reading experiences with pupils. When working with young adults, teachers may wish to reflect upon the teen-appropriate books that they’ve been reading. Freya states that this often creates a spark around a particular text, with students arranging their own waiting lists.

For further ideas about how to integrate reading into classrooms, click here to access Freya’s brilliant article.

How do you engage children with reading? Has it been a struggle? We would love to hear your techniques and share them on our Facebook page. Click here to comment.