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The SLA blog contains news about the SLA and topical information of general interest to our members. The blog has been running since 2004. An RSS 2.0 feed and information about how to subscribe to the blog are available.

Older blog posts are still available, though archived, on the website, but please check the date at the top of the post to make sure the offer or information is likely to be valid.

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 its '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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STEAM Children’s Book Prize winners

Steam Logo


The inaugural £1,000 STEAM Children’s Book Prize has been won by author Christopher Edge for The Infinite Lives of Maisie Day.

Edge's novel is a mystery about a girl who wakes up on her birthday to an unsettling, all-consuming blackness. Maisie must work with the laws of the universe to try and set her world right.

Roman Belyaev won the best information book award for How Does a Lighthouse Work?  How the Borks Became by Jonathan Emmet and Elys Dolan was named the best early years book.

White Rabbit Red Wolf by Tom Pollock won the YA prize and Battle of the Beetles by M G Leonard was the winner of the ‘Your Choice Award’, which is voted for by school pupils.

The prize was set up by UCLan Publishing to celebrate children’s books that highlight the importance of science, technology, engineering, arts and maths.


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Profile of Helen Cleaves

Cleaves,helen Web

The third of our profiles of the three exciting and innovative librarians who have made it onto the Honour List for the SLA School Librarian of the Year Award 2019. The Award Ceremony takes place in London on Thursday.

Helen Cleaves is Librarian/Learning Resources Manager at Kingston Grammar School where she has an impact which extends well beyond the library doors. From welcoming new staff with a breakfast croissant and liaising closely with pastoral staff through to promoting academic rigour at Head of Department meetings, Helen is utterly committed to ensuring that the library is welcoming, relevant and purposeful.

Read her full profile and a revealing Q&A: https://www.sla.org.uk/helen-cleaves.php

"Nothing beats the conversation with a student who has just finished a book that they loved, and so discovered a new favourite author to explore further."

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Job Vacancies, Headington School: Graduate Boarding Assistant - Library

Headington School, Oxford

Graduate Boarding Assistant - Library, fixed term, term time (residential)

Start date: September 2019    Salary: competitive

Headington is a vibrant and welcoming school set in 23 acres on the outskirts of Oxford. The School is renowned for its commitment to academic excellence, pastoral support and an impressive range of extra-curricular opportunities.

We are seeking a term-time only Library Graduate Assistant who has a passion for children's literature and enjoys working with young people and can assist in the boarding houses. This position may suit someone who is considering a career in Librarianship or teaching and has an interest in boarding. You will live and work at the School for the academic year September 2019 – July 2020.

We are seeking confident, resilient, well-rounded personalities with good flexibility to be able to adapt to changing circumstances to fulfil the role which will comprise of mainly librarian and some boarding duties.
If you are interested in applying for this position please refer to our website: www.headington.org  for a job specification and application form.

Please send your completed application form and covering letter to recruitment[at]headington.org

Closing Date for applications: 6 July 2019

Applicants must be able to provide evidence of having the right to live and work in the UK and be prepared to undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service check.

Headington School is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people. Applicants must undergo child protection screening, including checks with past employers and DBS and barred lists checks. The School expects all staff and volunteers to share this commitment. Headington School is an equal opportunities employer.

More Details...

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Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Awards Winners 2019


The CKG winners have been revealed. Certificates for the Shadowers’ awards and medals for the most prestigious children’s book prizes were presented in a ceremony today.

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Profile of Chantal Kelleher

Kelleher,Chantal Web

Introducing the second of our profiles of the three exciting and innovative librarians who have made it onto the Honour List for the SLA School Librarian of the Year Award 2019.

Chantal Kelleher is the LRC Manager at Herne Bay High School, a popular, oversubscribed school that prides itself on its culture of high expectations and values. The school is committed to ensuring that every child is given the opportunity to reach their full academic potential whilst supporting them to develop as mature, confident and rounded individuals ready to flourish in a rapidly developing world.

Read her full profile and a revealing Q&A: https://www.sla.org.uk/chantal-kelleher.php

"It is a pleasure to promote informal learning in a supportive environment. Successfully matching a student to a book they really enjoy, especially if they would not previously have considered themselves a reader, is a delight that never palls."

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Research article - impact of reading whole novels aloud

This article looks at the practice of reading aloud, and the impact it can have: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/lit.12141

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Alligator's Mouth Award 2019

The Alligator's Mouth Award 2019 for illustrated early fiction has been won by Nick Sharratt for Nice Work for the Cat and the King

Details here 


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