Schools – Reading Pathways

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Pop-up Children’s Book Stalls

If you are interested in having a Readers that Care children’s book stall at your school or know a community venue close to your school that would be suitable please get in touch. I hand pick a selection of quality picture books and chapter book fiction from a range of publishers, so your children and their families are ensured of a unique selection of books from which to browse. I also like to keep my book stalls small and personal if I can, so I  so I can offer one to one advise from my extensive experience of children’s books on what would suit a particular child.  If you need books for a particular event or purpose I can also help so please get in touch. 

Reading Pathway books collections #ReadingPathways

– supporting children’s reading for pleasure through fun book collections

I passionately believe every child should have the opportunity to love books and reading. However, the process of finding books you really want to read as a newly independent reader is more complex than it seems. So I have come up with an idea to help support children to find books they want to read for pleasure. Put simply it is a strategy to encourage children to make more connections with stories and between books to help them find their next and future reads.

I have chosen to focus a collection of books on years 1 , 2 and 3 for a number of reasons. One 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 click here.  A second reason is that we seem to have created confusion over whether our emerging readers are equally entitled to read and explore picture books as well as chapter books. Yet there are many creative examples of how picture books have been used to develop literacy skills and a curiosity about stories. Lets encourage our emerging readers to explore and play with picture book as well as chapter books, and by doing so increase the possibilities of them finding their next and future reads.

The Themes

These collections put a number of high quality picture book illustrators and authors at the heart of themed displays. They are reading for pleasure collections. I have deliberately chosen non curriculum topics, choosing instead more spontaneous , fun and wacky ways to make connections between books. Some of the books in the collection connect with each other, others do not.  In some cases I have combined things that are not usually included together in  the same display e.g dinosaurs and dogs. To encourage a child that likes one of these animals to look at stories with the other animal too. But, the core pictures books have deliberately been chosen to provide other connections. For example Dinosaurs Don’t Draw and Dogs Don’t Do Ballet, both have an animal doing something it doesn’t usually do and both challenge the readers perception that you can do things differently and be anything you want to be. 

Book Selection  – This is key 

If you know in advance that you are going to show themed collections to the same group of children over a specific time period (spanning at least two academic years), 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.

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:

  • This is a collection of books which are first and foremost chosen to encourage children (and there parents) to want to engage with stories. 
  • At the heart of the collection are picture books by a talented set of authors and illustrators. The intention is that children are introduced to both, as for some children their route into another story might be an illustrator they know and love and not an author. This selection of authors and illustrators have been chosen because of the strength of their stories as ones to share both at school and at home, but also because collectively the books they have written open up many possibilities for creating connecting themes. 
  • They include picture books and chapter books. This is important to the whole idea. It opens the possibility for children of different ages and reading abilities to engage in’ book talk’ and recommend books to each other.  It also plants the seeds of future chapter book reads for younger less confident readers. 
  • It encourages all readers (even the most able) to pick up and talk about a picture book as well as a chapter books.
  • Each of the core picture books challenge children’s perceptions or stereotypes in some way. Sometimes subtle and sometimes more obvious. In the additional suggested books I have also tried to add both ‘variety’ and some ‘diversity’ so that the collections as a whole greatly enhance the chance of ALL children finding a story they want to read and/or share. If you would like to extend this further I am happy to make some suggestions of how you can do this. 

Reading Pathway books collections #RfpPathways

I have put together three collections to introduce the idea. They can be introduced in any order. But I suggest you start with the Cake, Doughnut and Marshmallow theme or the Dinosaurs, Dogs and Dresses as they include mos of the core authors and illustrators. 

The Picture books feature a talented bunch of authors and illustrators. Below are those appearing in at least two themes. 

Authors

  • Elli Woolard
  • Lucy Rowland
  • Ranjit Singh

Author/Illustrators

  • Sarah McIntyre

Illustrators

  • Sarah Ogilvie (picture book and front cover of Boy who Grew Dragons)
  • Merhrdokht Amini
  • Steve Lenton 

I suggest you start with one of the these two themes:

Cakes, Doughnuts and Marshmallows

 Dinosaurs, Dogs and Dresses 

Another theme which would be great to follow on one of the above in year 3 or a year3/4 class.

Dragons and Birds

This includes 3 fantastic picture books and then a great selection of chapter books for emerging readers .

So much potential with this theme to add another element of your choice related to flight, here are some suggestions of things you could add:

  • Umbrella’s (some really diverse books you could add with this one)
  • Balloons and Airships
  • Bats
  • Planes and Helicopters

Three Special Starter Sets, containing 3 book each are available. Please ask for details. 

To Find out more and for a list of prices and specially discounted packs please get in touch.

 

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.

 

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(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