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Development and Discussion 2019 8: Power of Storytime

This month's Development and Discussion blog comes from Alison David, Consumer Insight Director at Egmont Publishing. It's a fantastic study into the power of storytime. And I would argue that we need to continue doing this: what you read changes; how you discuss it changes; but it is valuable, regardless of whether it's 'The Tiger that Came to Tea' or 'The Odyssey'. This post helps show the full extent of the positive impacts. 

 

What happened when storytime was introduced in Key Stage 2?

Through extensive research at Egmont we know that reading to children, for fun, is the most powerful agent in encouraging independent reading. However, most parents stop reading to their children at around the age of 8, believing that once their child can read, he or she will choose to read for pleasure. Only:

  • 32% of 0-13s are read to daily by their parents

  • 29% of 0-13s read daily for pleasure

  • 19% of 8-10s are read to daily by their parents

By contrast, when 8-13s are read to by their parents less than weekly, 29% also read independently for pleasure daily; when 8-13s are read to by their parents on a daily basis, 76% also read independently for pleasure daily.[1]

 

Reading for Pleasure is a statutory requirement on the curriculum

The Department for Education's 2015 report, Reading: the next steps, states that nothing is more important in education than ensuring every child can read well, and the way to do this is to instil a passion for reading for pleasure.

 "Pupils should be taught to …develop positive attitudes to reading and understanding of what they read by…listening to and discussing a wide range of fiction, poetry, plays, non-fiction and reference books or textbooks"

Department for Education English programmes of study: Key Stages 1 and 2.  National Curriculum in England. September 2013. Statutory requirement

The use of language is interesting – ‘taught’, ‘discussing’. There is an implicit expectation that children should have an opinion and will be expected to share it. It naturally leads to testing their understanding and comprehension, and it means that children are very likely to view reading as a lesson and not a pleasure. It also reveals there is a belief that reading for pleasure is a subject that can be taught. However, pleasure is an outcome. It cannot be learned, though it can be shared.

 

Case study St Joseph’s school, Goldenhill, Stoke on Trent

Egmont’s most recent research has a simple idea behind it: many children are not being read to at home, so what happens to their attitudes and motivations to read for themselves if their teachers read daily to them, just for fun, with no testing and no formal learning agenda? Egmont worked with KS 2 to investigate this. 

The project findings:

  • Across KS 2 over a 5-month period, reading comprehension improved dramatically:

  • Year 3 improved by an average of 15 months

  • Year 4 improved by an average of 9 months

  • Year 5 by an average of 10 months

  • Year 6 by an average of 7 months

 

The school is of mixed ability so the averages include some already capable readers who might not be expected to improve so much. There are some truly astonishing individual improvements within those 4 years:

  • A boy in Year 3 improved by 2 years and 8 months

  • A girl in Year 4 improved by 2 years and 1 month

  • A girl in Year 5 improved by 1 year and 7 months

  • A boy in Year 6 improved by 1 year

  • The project was galvanising and joyful. Behaviour and attainment changed.

  • It was a great stress release for children and teachers, and children were much more keen to read

  • Teachers found it impossible to make time to read daily due to the already heavy demands of the curriculum.  They managed 3-4 days a week on average over the autumn term 2018

It seems that the more reading for pleasure is uncoupled from lessons, the greater the impact it has on attainment. It is an easy and low-cost solution to the challenge to get children reading. Being read to, just for pleasure, should be an intrinsic part of the school day, as normal, unquestionable and as unchangeable as lunch break.

At Egmont we believe it is every child’s right to be read to every day.

 

Alison David

Consumer Insight Director, Egmont Publishing

 

To read the findings from the research at St Josephs in more detail, click here: https://www.egmont.co.uk/stories-and-choices-research/

 


[1]Nielsen’s ‘Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer 2018

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