Reading at Whitstable Junior School
“I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn't be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.”
At Whitstable Junior School we believe, like Roald Dahl, that teaching children to become confident readers who develop a life-long love of reading is one of the greatest gifts of education. On this page we want to share with you how we set about teaching and promoting reading, and enlist your support in helping the children achieve these goals.
Whole Class Reading
In class we teach reading through Reading with RIC sessions. This ensures we cover the new objectives:
- Retrieve –finding information in text
- Interpret - including predictions
- Choice - including language, structure and presentation
- Viewpoint - including history and culture if appropriate
- Perform - to make way for the Reading objectives of performance poetry and play scripts
- Review - to include written recommendations, presentations and discussions as required in upper KS2
The class share books together and comprehension skills are taught alongside enjoying a book for pleasure.
Home-School Reading - A Partnership
From Year 3, children have colour-banded books they take home to read. These books are matched to their individual abilities. The children are expected to bring their books to school every day as opportunities may arise for them to continue their reading. As children complete their books, they should be placed in an allocated box in their classroom and their books will be changed.
Different children read at different speeds and need different amounts of support, so it is a tremendous help if parents or carers can find ten minutes each day to share reading with their children. We are aware how busy parents can be, but there is probably nothing else so effective in improving the ability of children to read and to enjoy reading.
Each child is provided with a Reading Log which they can mark off as they complete each book (This is kept in the school library). This allows us to track and monitor their progress across the Reading Scheme. We also find that children take pride in marking off each book, and, should they lose or mislay their log, please encourage them to get a replacement from the school office.
It is worth noting that non-fiction books are generally more difficult than the story-telling fiction books. Therefore you may find that your child sometimes brings home a book from the banding below what they are normally given.
In time children progress to the point where they can read and understand what they are reading independently, which is one of the great milestones in their development. This does not mean they no longer need our support, but it does mean they can choose books to read from the class library, the school library and from home.
It will be a great help if independent readers still share their reading at home. This gives them a tremendous feeling of accomplishment, particularly as they have chosen the books they want to read, and sharing reading allows the listener to check their accuracy and comprehension. Sharing should also provide lots of topics of conversation, essential to the development of language skills.
As children develop as independent readers, encourage them to read a mixture of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Many children become so enthusiastic about reading stories that they end up on a diet of nothing but fiction. Encourage them to enjoy a variety of texts, and to continue keeping their Reading Logs up to date. Remind them their reading logs will be checked!
The School Library
At Whitstable Junior School every pupil is issued with their personal library `ticket (which is kept in school). They can read and share their choices both in school and at home. Some children may choose books above their decoding ability; this is fine but it is really helpful if they have an adult with whom they can share at least some of the reading with.
Book Marks & Reading Prizes
Enjoying reading is a reward in itself, but children, like everyone else, enjoy recognition of their efforts and achievements, so at WJS we have developed a scheme of simple rewards having learned that every little helps.
Children on the Reading Scheme are issued with Book Marks to help encourage reading. We will be grateful if adults initial the Bookmark every time their child has been listened to while reading at home. Once a child has completed both sides of their Book Mark, he/she is then presented with a prize in school. This can become quite competitive.
In Lower School (Years 3 and 4) children are issued with Reading Badges.
- Bronze 1
- Silver 1
- Gold 1
- Bronze 2
- Silver 2
- Gold 2
- Platinum 1
- Platinum 2
In Upper School (Years 5 and 6) the same structure of rewards is followed, but pupils are rewarded with wrist bands. They, too, can become quite competitive.
If a child loses a badge or wrist band, a replacement may be purchased for £1.
We are very fortunate at WJS because we have regular visits from a Reading Dog, whose name is Bunty. Every term a group of less confident readers visit the library where each child can separately spend fifteen minutes reading to Bunty. Sat on a cushion or beanbag, it is remarkable how attentive both participants appear to be. Sessions are monitored by Mrs. Anne Hooker, Bunty’s owner, who offers guidance as required.
In our experience, children look forward to these sessions and quickly engage with Bunty in what is clearly an enjoyable and confidence-boosting experience. As you can imagine, there are lots of children who want to ‘read with Bunty’ and we share out the time as fairly as we can.