The most critical part of teaching children to read is also instilling a love of reading. At Upham School, we want all of our children to develop a love of reading and to enjoy spending time sharing a book with a friend or adult or immersing themselves independently in something they enjoy. We achieve this through the teaching of English, including phonics (see separate page 'Learning to Read & Phonics' but also through an ethos throughout the school where reading and books are promoted, given value, praised and encouraged. Here are some examples:
With so many local libraries closing we have ensured we have a well-stocked library in school. It is a spacious room easily accessed by everyone. On child-friendly shelving there are books to cater for pre-readers (ie a few words or even just pictures) right up to more complex novels for Year 6. There is also a wide variety of types of book, such as short stories, dyslexia-friendly print stories, graphic novels, picture books and comic-style books. We also have a well stocked non-fiction section covering most topics so the children can find books about things they are interested in.
Children are allowed to choose books from our library to take home and enjoy - either with family or independently. They have time during the week to change books and scan out new ones as much as they need to.
Our team of Year 5 and 6 librarians are also on hand to help children choose books or help them find something they are looking for - they can even recommend titles or new stock additions to the children.
The best thing about reading is sharing a story with someone. In classes, children will often share books but we also deliberately plan into the week time to share books across the ages. We break the children across the school into 'family groups' which each contain a child from every year group (including Year 6 children and their buddies). These families get together to share books and enjoy reading with each other. We use the whole school for this - it's important to find a comfy space to enjoy the book, in the warmer months we do this outside on the grass of under a tree. The children really enjoy this and reading skills are modelled and even taught by the older children as shown in many of these photos:
In every class, children hear stories together as their teacher reads them a story. In Classes 1 and 2 these are likely to be shorter picture books, potentially chosen because they reinforce a phonics blend or teaching focus or because the subject matter broadens their learning or just because the story is just amazing!
In Classes 3 and 4, longer texts will be explored which may relate to a topic being explored, such as the link between 'Stig and the Dump' and learning about stone-age life or a wider aspect of the curriculum. Sometimes these may be selected by the children based on their interests or authors they like, such as 'Cogheart' by Peter Bunzl. Their teacher will deliberately choose something, potentially very challenging, to enable them to think about an issue, such as Class 4 who read 'Shadow' and were moved to learn more about difficulties facing refugees and went on to read 'Refugee Boy'. Lots of discussion and talk about the book helps everyone engage and enjoy the process and children also use their reading journals to explore ideas further.
Reading is fun and high profile whole-school events show that we value stories, reading and books. World Book Day is always a highlight of the year and our school council last year wanted to hold a 'dress-up-as-your-favourite-character' day. Everyone looked great and had loads of fun!