The background to Reading Pathway themed displays #RfpPathways
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.
To view the Reading Pathway themed book collections click here.
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Melissa Jordan, Readers that Care, Cambourne, Cambridge
(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.