Friday, 4 June 2010

Shaping readers through choices

How can teachers, parents and other interested adults help children to become avid readers? A number of theories have been aired recently. For example, the TES reported that Teachers' book club helps boost boys' reading ability. Giving teachers contemporary children's books to read for themselves has apparently helped them to narrow the gap between boys' and girls' achievement in literacy.

What goes on in the home is also important. Vanessa Thorpe wrote in The Observer that Parents 'must let children choose what they read'. In The Guardian, Rachel Williams bemoaned the fact that Many parents failing to read to children, survey shows. According to this survey, more than half of primary teachers say they have seen at least one child with no experience of being told stories at home - but, as the Telegraph tells us, Books in the home 'boost children's education' . Keeping just 20 books in the home can boost children’s chances of doing well at school, according to a major study. Sharing stories and reading together as a family are vital to the development of a child’s literacy skills - forthcoming National Literacy Trust research will show how that children who are encouraged to read by their parents are more likely to have above average reading levels. Without adequate literacy skills a child is less likely to succeed at school and to become a happy and confident young person. They therefore launched their Tell Me a Story campaign on 2 June to raise awareness that every child has the right to share stories and develop the skills they need for their future. Book Dads is another site which encourages reading in the home by providing advice and resources for dads.

Other recent help on choosing books for young readers comes from Lucy Mangan's article How do you choose books for children? in which she asks questions such as "does The Railway Children's happy ending inspire false hope or a welcome dose of escapism for children with absent parents?" The Guardian has its guide to Best children's books ever (Lucy Mangan again) and you can find other people listing their Top 100 books, such as Trevor Cairney, who groups some of his by theme, topic and genre, while others are grouped by age, author or gender, and Maggi Idzikowski who has created a fabulous Animoto presentation of hers.

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