If you are interested in having a Readers that Care children’s book stall at your school, and at the same time promoting reading for pleasure, please get in touch to discuss how I can help. I stock books from a wide selection of publishers and so if you are having a visiting author and need some books for them to sign please contact me to see how I can help.
Reading for Pleasure #RfpPathways – Themed book displays based around a core book selection
#RfPPathways is a term I have come up with to describe my ideas to help support children to find books they want to read for pleasure. Put simply it is a strategy to support children to make more connections with stories and between books to help them find their next and future reads. To help in promoting reading for pleasure at the school wide level I have put together a suggested selection of books targeting children in year 2, 3 and 4, from which multiple themes can be created. There are many reasons for choosing this particular age group. One of them is that whilst there has been a lot done in recent years to promote awareness of middle grade fiction, children and their parents are far less aware of the range of books for 6 to 9 years out there, yet this is the very point that the majority of them are emerging as independent readers. To find out more about the background to this idea please see the bottom of this page. You may also be interested in the RfP Pathways paired books which I am offering to my individual customers to help them support their children in their reading journeys.
Themed book displays based around a Core book selection
The idea is on a regular basis (perhaps as often as once each half-term) to display a collections of books which are connected by a theme or themes. My suggestion is that most of the themes are not curriculum or topic related, but more ‘spontaneous’, ‘wacky’, ‘adhoc’ ways to make connections between books.
The target age group
The target group for this collection of books is years 2, 3 and 4. A good time period could be from the beginning of the Summer term of year 2 to the end of the Christmas term for year 4, but this will vary depending on the needs of your school. But, many of the books would be of considerable interest to younger and older children, and you could easily add more books to each themed collection to make some of them whole school. A significant number of books are suitable for all children in years 2 to 4, though for younger children this may be as a home read aloud. But some books are for year 3 or 4 upwards (this will be clearly indicated).
Book Selection – This is key to the whole idea and where it get’s really interesting.
Before reading this you may wish to read ‘The background to this idea’ near the bottom of this page.
If you know in advance that you are going to show themed collections to the same group of children over a specific time period, then you have the opportunity to do something that could make a real difference to reading for pleasure. If you carefully select the authors and illustrators at the beginning then the same authors and illustrators can reappear in future themes, sometimes this may be the same book or different books by the same author and/or illustrator.
One of the many things I have learnt over the years is that if you change the lens that you use to search for books, you choose different books and you stumble across other books you didn’t even know existed!
The lens I have chosen to select the books:
- It includes picture books and chapter books – This is crucial to the whole idea. It enables younger children to see chapter books and actively encourages older children (including the most able readers) to pick up a picture book.
- The illustrators of these books are as important as the authors.
- A core of the books are ones that will appeal to a wider age range (often wider than the target audience) and readers with different interests
- The collection as a whole includes ‘variety’ and some ‘diversity’. In terms of the way a story is written, its’s setting and the characters in it. For some of you the core collection may not go far enough. I can give bespoke advice on how to add more diversity.
My Book Selection:
A smaller core collection of books, which include authors and/or illustrators which reappear in different themes. A number of them are aimed at the younger age range because the connecting authors/illustrators and books need to be ones that are suitable everyone in my target age range.
A wider selection of carefully chosen picture books and chapter books which can be added to the core books to create interesting themed displays. This includes some books which are more suited to year 3 upwards and some that are year 4 plus.
A provisional selection of the core of books is shown below. You could adapt it to the needs of your school and to your budget.
And here is one example of a theme you could create using a few books from the collection, and an additional selection of books:
The background to this idea
I have spent the last four years exploring and finding out about children’s books, the reading process and ways to encourage reading for pleasure. Well actually I re-discovered children’s books just before my daughter was born 9 and half years ago! But, then I started to see picture books differently. Not just as great read aloud to share with your kids, but as the multi-layered picture, and text creations that they are. My daughters transition to independent reading was not an easy one, and she went backwards as well as forwards. But, it was the inspiration to find out so much more about chapter book fiction and the start of what will probably be a life-times curiosity about what encourages a child to pick up a particular book or books.
Through observing my children’s reading journeys and multiple conversations with many others including parents, teachers, teaching assistants and librarians I have come to the view that:
It the majority of children, not the minority that at key points (so more than once) have difficulties moving from one author to the next and/ finding a book they want to read that means something to them.
There are many factors which can impact on the ability of a child to navigate the book choices available. Two broad factors which potentially affect any child are: Firstly, of a child who has yet to build up substantial reading experience the traditional way of organising chapter books ‘alphabetically by author’ is problematic, unless it is embedded in a supportive structure. For example regular contact with an experienced school librarian who has time to get to know children and to guide them to books they may like or even to encourage them to try something new. However, the majority of my customers tell me that their children either do not have a librarian at all or do not have regular contact with one. Secondly, we seem at a society level to be ‘confused about picture books’ . As uncomfortable as it is to acknowledge, there is an underlying assumption that: ’to progress with your reading at some point you leave picture books behind’. And the belief that ‘picture books are not for older children or adults’. I have the huge privilege of being part of some fabulous communities on twitter and I know that so many of you know that this is not the case, and are doing wonderful things with picture books in your schools and communities. Picture books are relevant to everyone no matter what your age.
Whilst reading recently the wonderful book ‘Guiding Reading – Layers of Meaning’ (1). It finally sunk in just how much a reader has to process to fully understand a text, and this increases as it get’s more complex. And that it is likely that emerging and less experienced readers will have to deal with ‘multiple interruptions’ to their reading as they build the skills, knowledge and experience to become fluent readers in the future. As a parent having school age children I have learnt that they are far more resilient to many things than I imagined that they might be. But, I have also learnt that when multiple factors converge they often need support to find their way through it. Whilst a child is building their skills at ‘reading in the moment’ and ‘reading reflection’, to also ask them to navigate the book choices out there, and find books that have meaning to them on their own I believe is asking a lot of any child, including the most able readers in a year group. But, the great news is that there are so many small things that can help children find out about and connect with books, and so many great examples that are already happening across the United Kingdom.
(1)2016: Wayne Tenenent, David Reedy, Angela Hobsbawm, Niki Gamble: Guiding Readers – Layers of Meaning: A handbook for teaching reading comprehension to 7 to 11 year olds. Institute of Education Press.
Melissa Jordan, Readers that Care, Cambourne, Cambridge