Last year, 120 children across several year groups at St. Luke’s C of E Primary School in London took part in our Young Readers Programme, funded by Slaughter and May. The school has been running the programme for over 10 years and Keith Grey, Year 5 Teacher and Literacy Coordinator was delighted with the enthusiasm the programme was met with again this year.
Keith tries to ensure as many pupils can participate in the programme as possible, alternating each year between Key Stage 1/Early Years and Key Stage 2. A high proportion of the school children receive free school meals and for many of them, this is the first time they’ve ever owned a book. He sees many of them take great pride in taking their new books home to share with their families and continue reading outside of the classroom.
“One of the main reasons why we have continued to run the programme in our school for so many years is because it’s a great way to engage children in the idea of reading for pleasure,” explained Keith. Instilling a love of reading has been the main priority for the teachers at St Luke’s. They have taken the time to help children to be independent and choose their own books based on what genres, authors and styles they enjoy, so they can discover the joy of getting lost in a story.
“We find the children get really excited about getting hold of books they can keep,” Keith added. “We really build it up for them to ignite their excitement, and we also get some of the pupils involved in sorting and organising the books. They also enjoy all the author visits and fun activities around reading.”
To support their love of reading, the school also held a book fair to engage parents in their children’s reading, as well as hosting after school sessions that parents were invited to. They even have plans this year to create a display board with pictures of children’s family members as ‘reading role models’ reading their favourite books, papers, magazines or material of choice. The idea is to highlight to the children that reading is such a useful skill that everyone uses and will be helpful to them in later in life.
Other staff members also got involved with the programme. The school caretaker and cook both came into the classroom to share their favourite stories with different classes. Various teachers came together to give a special assembly on their favourite books, which really gave a sense of the whole school getting behind reading for pleasure.
One younger pupil’s enthusiasm for reading for pleasure has particularly blossomed in the last year. Keith said: “He seeks me out daily to give me an update on what he’s reading and how much he’s been reading at home, which is really rewarding for me. Before participating in the programme, he had a negative attitude towards reading, and was among those of a lower ability. Now I can see he really cherishes the books he can take home and it has really encouraged his love of reading for pleasure, so it’s been really positive for him.”
Some of the children became so engrossed in reading that Keith caught them reading under the table in other lessons, and has had to redirect a few children to comfortable reading spots after he’s seen them with their head in a book while walking along in the corridors. “They are definitely nice problems to have!” he said.