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Reading for pleasure: changing professional practice

Research by The Open University’s Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET) has developed a successful approach which is encouraging tens of thousands of primary school children to read for pleasure. The will to read influences the skill, so this work will be impacting on children’s life chances.

Key impacts include:

Implementation of over 100 Open University – UK Literacy Association Teachers’ Reading Groups. This evidence-informed way of developing children’s pleasure in reading has enriched children’s life chances and last year 100% of leaders and members reported that it changed their professional practice.

Transforming pupils’ attitudes to reading. Teachers’ work, drawing on the research findings and shared on the website, reveals, as does feedback from Reading Group members, that their pupils are now more enthusiastic about reading, many more are choosing to read and see themselves as readers. Also, communities of engaged readers are being created in classrooms and schools across the country.

Partnering with 26 Initial Teacher Education providers to support student teachers to develop their knowledge of children’s texts and capacity to use this research to enrich their practice.

What this research does

It is recognised that children who read for pleasure improve their life chances, not just in education, but in mental wellbeing and social relationships.

Research has shown, however, that children in England read less often and don’t enjoy reading as much as their counterparts in other countries.

To address this issue researchers at the OU, working with 27 schools developed a Reading for Pleasure pedagogy. This teaching approach is being used by educators across the UK to engage thousands of primary school children in reading for pleasure.

A key part of the strategy is to create enjoyable ‘social reading environments’ in schools, where children and their teachers read together, both aloud and independently, discuss what they are reading and share recommendations.

To support this approach, OU researchers recommended teachers should develop a broader, deeper and more up-to-date understanding of children’s literature so they can offer an appealing range of reading materials. This could include not just books, but also multimedia and everyday texts read outside of school.

To put the approach into practice in schools, OU researchers have helped create Teachers Reading Groups – currently 105 groups across the UK and four internationally, involving some 1,600 teachers teaching 48,000 primary and secondary school pupils.

Each Reading Group is led by a facilitator trained by the research team, who mediates the research findings and makes use of the  support and resources on the OU Reading for Pleasure website.

When teachers know more about children’s literature and children’s reading practices beyond school, they widen what counts as ‘reading’ in their classrooms, and authentically recognise diversity in texts and readers. Our research has shown that this, responsively combined with the Reading for Pleasure pedagogy, makes a positive impact on children’s reading for pleasure.

Professor Teresa Cremin
The Open University

Researchers are also currently working directly with 16 schools in Nottingham and Birmingham to develop communities of engaged readers. They additionally partner with 26 initial teacher education providers to profile Reading for Pleasure in the student teachers’ curriculum, helping trainees develop the knowledge of books and of their readers needed to raise the next generation of readers.

The Reading for Pleasure project OU website provides excellent resources for teachers, teaching assistants, librarians and others supporting reading and literacy in schools.

Research publications