We believe it is vital that children have time to read a variety of books so they can enjoy reading. Reading for pleasure. Not because it ticks off an objective or sets up a writing opportunity but, well, just because!
Reading aloud is one of the most important things our teachers do and is a frequent and regular part of each school day. Reading aloud enables children to experience and enjoy stories they might not otherwise meet. At Wheatley we make it a priority and ensure everyone understands the importance of it. Reading aloud is a non-negotiable that isn’t gobbled up by finishing off or tidying up. Time is set aside for it. By reading well-chosen books aloud, teachers help classes to become communities of readers – ensuring that they can share in experiences of a wide repertoire of books they enjoy. This links to the commitment we have to deepening and broadening the children’s vocabulary and our literacy focus for writing using quality texts.
The reading areas in each classroom are designed to be comfortable and relaxed. The children sitting on comfy cushions and chairs – allowing their mind to get into a book, these serve as a constant reminder for the children to pick up a book and start reading. Classroom libraries with books from a variety of genres and covering a range of potential areas of interest increase pupils’ literacy-related skills and promote phonemic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension and writing. These, alongside our spacious school library, are accessible, welcoming places that are stocked with good-quality, appropriate books.
Books and information about books are displayed attractively in classrooms and library where browsing, choosing and reading can take place on a daily basis. We know that there are books which lend themselves to being talked about, thought through, returned to and which are engaging for children for a variety of reasons. Powerful stories engage children, stir ideas and feelings and excite the reader’s interest and imagination.
To inspire reading in children, we also:
We celebrate literature by organising events such as author and illustrator visits or theatre trips to experience author presentations.
This is a photograph from our recent visit to see the author Jeff Kinney at the Oxford Playhouse.
On days such as World Book Day we set aside the timetable and really celebrate books. This year we engaged in all sorts of exciting activities such as speed dating with books, extreme reading consequences, book trailers and story crowns. We dressed up as our favourite characters and created stories using those characters. Every class also spent time sharing stories with their bug and, in our library, the day culminated with our parents and carers joining us to share stories together.
Such an event gives children a real reason for understanding characters, expressing preferences, talking about books they have enjoyed and hearing about books from their peers. And perhaps, most importantly, it enables them to see the power of a shared love of reading.