A campaign to ignite passion for reading in schoolchildren has been launched by the University of St Mark & St John, Plymouth.
Evidence suggests that all reading makes a difference, but that it is reading for pleasure that makes the most difference to children’s attainment, according to research published by the National Literacy Trust in 2011.
The new scheme involves interactive storytime sessions delivered in local primary schools, led by children’s literature expert Anne Bradley, a lecturer in Initial Teacher Training at the University.
Anne Bradley said: “Getting children to engage in reading for pleasure is high on the Government agenda. In collaboration with the University’s Employability team we are encouraging student and staff volunteers to share their skills in inspiring children to read, with a great response from schools so far.”
Dr Ian Luke, Dean of the Faculty of Education & Social Sciences, said: "Obviously children’s literacy is high on the national agenda, but this is also a heart-warming example of students living our University’s values; to have a positive impact on society and get involved in the local community.”
Anne Bradley added: “What’s important is making reading fun, moving away from ‘testing’ children, and instead encouraging them to enjoy listening to great stories. Choosing books with humour is a good place to start and many books appeal to adults on different levels.”
“Providing children with a broad selection of good quality books is key, and it’s good to keep up-to-date with the nation’s favourites such as ‘The Day the Crayons Quit’ by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers. Another popular choice is ‘I want my hat back’ by Jon Klassen.”
In Reading: the next steps - Supporting higher standards in schools, March 2015, the Department for Education stated, “The government welcomes and supports the many initiatives that exist to encourage children to read widely and develop a love of books: World Book Day, the Summer Reading Challenge and Premier League Reading Stars to name but a few. Promoting a love of reading is not something that the government can, or should, act on alone. Parents, schools, libraries and others all have a vital role to play in fostering a love of reading amongst children.”
Classes of schoolchildren and their teachers are invited to take part at the University’s library and workshops can be delivered in schools too. Flying Start nursery, based on campus, was first to take up the offer with pre-school children going to University once a week to listen to stories read by volunteers. Students have visited Anthony Church of England Primary School in Torpoint during their book week to read to children in key stage one.
Anne Bradley’s work is focussed on developing children's writing in primary education. Her research is focussed on developing children's writing techniques and children's use of language. She is currently investigating methods of teaching poetry and the impact of the new curriculum on the teaching of poetry.
Ann Sawyer, Senior Library Assistant at the University of St Mark & St John, is involved in the organisation and is always ready to provide support on reading choices. For more information telephone the University of St Mark & St John library on 01752 636700 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.