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Tips for teachers and parents on International Literacy Day

Sunday 8 September marks International Literacy Day – a chance for governments, civil society and educators to reflect on the world’s remaining literacy challenges. Professor Teresa Cremin is a Professor of Education at The Open University, with a specific focus on literacy. Teresa, who has published widely in this area, is accomplished in creative teaching and learning in literacy. Here she discusses the importance of ‘Reading for Pleasure’ and some of the innovative ways schools are developing rich reading cultures.

‘Reading for Pleasure’ (RfP) offers  significant benefits to children, including increased attainment in literacy and numeracy (e.g. OECD, 2010; Sullivan & Brown, 2013); improved general knowledge (e.g. Clark & Rumbold, 2006); richer vocabulary (e.g. Sullivan & Brown, 2013); support in identity exploration (e.g. Rothbauer, 2004); and enhancement of imagination and empathy (e.g.Kidd & Costano, 2013). International evidence also indicates that the will to read influences the skill, and that there is a strong association between those who choose to read in childhood and later academic achievements in adolescence.

It’s no surprise then that governments around the world are now paying attention to RfP as a core strand of supporting literacy and reading attainment, with RfP being a statutory requirement in UK schools for the past six years. Ofsted are now looking to see evidence of a rich and wide reading curriculum, which encompasses lots of reading aloud to children, and with children in order that they are supported to read by themselves. Developing a love of reading is officially recognised as being essential to children’s education.

Schools are seeking ways to demonstrate their commitment to this agenda and showcase their schools as reading communities. Many have refurbished their libraries, and some have even purchased double decker buses, tents, sheds, tree houses and caravans to deck out, as well as cushions, carpets and sofas to enrich classroom reading areas. These often-colourful spaces indicate to parents, governors, Ofsted inspectors and the children, that the school values reading. However much will depend on the quality of the books available and the opportunities for children and teachers to engage in informal book blether in these spaces.

If you’re a teacher, parent or guardian, why not try some of these ideas to encourage the children in your life to read more, and enjoy the wonderful world of storytelling.

  • Read Award Winners: from Carnegie and Kate Greenaway, Lollies, Blue Peter, Costa, School Library Association, UKLA, Smarties and more besides
  • Read to your knee or thigh in books!
  • Take the 52 book challenge and share each one as you read it
  • Read outside your ‘comfort zone’: try graphic novels, world literature, nonfiction, poetry, comics or magazines
  • Create your own library shelf: either at home or in the classroom, this will enable you to discuss and recommend texts.

Linked to the OU’s reading for pleasure website – packed with ideas, the OU and UK Literacy Association are supporting over 100 Teachers’ Reading Groups across the UK and beyond in 2019-20. These groups provide free CPD for teachers, teaching assistants, early years professionals, librarians and others to enrich their understanding of reading for pleasure (RfP) and how to support children as readers

Find out more 

On Reading for Pleasure

About International Literacy Day

If you’re interested in joining an OU/ UKLA Reading Group

About Author

Hannah is part of the Media Relations Team at The Open University, working with the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies. With experience both agency and in-house, Hannah has worked on campaigns for a number of large corporate companies and brands, including RBS, NatWest, Travelodge, Audible, AA and the Royal Academy of Dance. She has completed a Masters in Publishing Studies from Oxford Brookes and is currently studying towards a DipHE in Computer, IT and Design. In her free time she enjoys photography, reading and going to the theatre.

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