Reading for Pleasure and Student Outcomes
As discussed in SecEd on October 3rd 2023, Professor Teresa Cremin investigates the significance of fostering a culture of reading for pleasure in key stage 3, emphasising its transformative impact on student outcomes and well-being, according to the updated Department for Education (DfE) Reading Framework.
In the realm of education, reading for pleasure (often deemed an optional enrichment) is a powerful tool rather than a mere distraction from academic rigor. Professor Cremin, drawing insights from the new DfE Reading Framework covering key stages 2 and 3, asserts that nurturing voluntary reading is instrumental in elevating academic standards and supporting students' psychological well-being.
Much of this evidence ties in with Christopher Such’s approach to improving reading at KS2, which we discussed last month in 5 Ways to Improve Reading at KS2
A Key Indicator for Success
Acknowledging the advantages of reading for pleasure, Schools Minister Nick Gibb emphasises its role as a "key indicator for success in further education, higher education, and employment". Frequent reading correlates with academic, social, and emotional benefits. International evidence underscores positive associations between recreational book reading and heightened reading comprehension and academic achievements.
Choice-led reading not only broadens students' understanding of the world but also enhances their grasp of subject-specific vocabulary. This expanded knowledge facilitates smoother access to the entire curriculum. Moreover, the positive impact of reading extends to socio-emotional development, making avid readers better adjusted adolescents capable of meeting the challenges of secondary school.
Never has there been a greater need to encourage a greater reading enjoyment. According to the 2023 Annual Literacy Survey by the National Literacy Trust, only 2 in 5, 8- to 18-year olds say they enjoy reading in their free time, with less than 3 in 10 saying that they read daily.
DfE Reading Framework
Professor Cremin advocates for a comprehensive approach to building a reading culture in schools, leveraging the new Reading Framework released by the DfE in July. This non-statutory framework offers guidance on teaching reading and motivating students to read, a crucial endeavour considering the decline in attitudes toward reading, especially among boys and students on free school meals.
The framework emphasizes that fostering recreational reading is not a one-size-fits-all solution but requires the collective effort of all staff to create a culture and ethos of reading for pleasure. Strategies outlined in the framework include profiling choice and interest, reading aloud, informal book talk, and involving all staff as “influencers”.
The Power of Influence and Choice
Ensuring access to culturally relevant diverse texts is highlighted as key to developing a desire to read. Professor Cremin advocates for creating legacies of past satisfaction by allowing students the agency to choose texts aligned with their abilities and interests.
Reading aloud for pleasure, separate from instructional reading, is underscored as a powerful tool. It not only enables access to challenging texts but also fosters effective engagement and open discussion. Professor Cremin cites research showing significant comprehension gains in key stage 3 students within 16 weeks through sustained commitment to reading aloud.
Regular time and space for informal discussions about books are crucial, fostering connections, camaraderie, and reader relationships that motivate students to read. The framework recommends that all key stage 3 classes have regular library time to enable such discussions.
Staff, including teachers and librarians, play a pivotal role as role models and influencers. They can introduce students to a variety of authors, both classic and contemporary, expanding their literary horizons. Creating a coherent plan to profile recreational reading across the school is deemed essential.
Reading time, as emphasized in the framework, is not a standalone activity but part of the broader reading for pleasure provision. It requires the establishment of choice, read-aloud sessions, and time for discussions before students can willingly engage in reading during allocated time.
By actively fostering a reading culture that encompasses choice, read-aloud sessions, and discussions, schools can not only elevate academic standards but also contribute to the holistic well-being of their students. Professor Teresa Cremin's insights, drawn from her extensive experience and research, provide a roadmap for schools to integrate reading for pleasure seamlessly into their educational fabric.
How do we Help?
At ReadingWise, we (rather obviously) don’t need persuading about the significance that reading has on young people. We see the lifting of reading ability across all key stages as integral to the development of a genuine love for books; recreational, choice-led reading comes naturally to those who have mastered the core skills.
As well as our key modules supporting different aspects of learning to read, we also publish regular word-lists and vocabulary cards to support greater comprehension and discussion of the books your students are reading. These resources are free for all UK teachers and available on our blog pages, and regularly shared on social media. Follow us to stay up to date with all our new word lists and vocab cards as they arrive.