Reading is central to children's learning, enabling them to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. Through literature children develop intellectually, emotionally, culturally and socially.
The children arrive in the Junior School having been taught early reading skills through a focus on phonics. Phonics is an approach to teaching reading that emphasizes the skills of decoding words by sounding out and blending sounds. Phonics has been found to be effective in supporting younger readers (4-7 year olds) master basic reading skills. It is most effective when taught as part of a rich literacy environment. Children also need to taught vocabulary, comprehension and spelling skills alongside phonics.
Developing Reading in Key Stage 2
To develop higher order reading skills in Key Stage 2 (7-11 year olds) children need to experience a range of reading strategies. Furthermore, there is evidence that for older readers, who are still struggling to develop reading skills, phonics may be less successful than other approaches. Therefore, while the school uses phonic interventions to support children experiencing difficulties with reading, it does so accompanied by other methods. In Year 3 'Launch the Lifeboat' has been used as a phonics intervention programme, while 'Rapid Readers' have been successful in supporting some of our older children who are struggling with reading.
The Education Endowment Foundation recommends "purposeful speaking and listening activities" as the basis for nurturing good literacy skills. Telford Junior School provides these opportunities through its rich curriculum:
- Activities extending pupils expressive and receptive vocabulary (e.g. role play, debating, sharing artefacts in History and other cross curricular learning tasks).
- Reading texts aloud and discussing them (whole class guided reading and group reading).
- Structured questioning to develop reading comprehension (e.g. verbally during guided reading sessions, by using the questions included at the back of reading scheme books, or through written comprehension activities).
- Teachers modelling inference (during guided reading).
- Pupils articulating their ideas before they start writing (which happens across the curriculum).
The school also recognizes the importance of developing reading fluency. This allows the pupil to focus on comprehending the text, rather than being preoccupied with word recognition:
- Teachers model reading and then ask pupils to read the same text aloud.
- Pupils repeat the reading of short, meaningful passages.
- Children read books from the school's reading scheme, benefiting from reading a range of genres and familiar vocabulary.
As children become more confident readers, they are encouraged to choose books for themselves, helping to extend their vocabulary. However, Year 6 teachers will still want children to use the reading scheme, to experience a wider range of genres (mystery, folk tale, fable, informational, legend, fairy tale, myth, fantasy, poetry, historical fiction, biography, autobiography, science fiction).
Throughout their time in the Junior School, children are given the opportunity to choose their own books; selecting books from the school library or from classroom reading areas.
Reading comprehension is key to preparing children to access the secondary school curriculum. Children need to be taught the skills of:
- Activating prior knowledge
During guided reading lessons, teachers will model and explain these skills, using carefully selected texts, pitched at the appropriate level. Teachers will use a variety of different genre. These skills are also developed and assessed through written comprehension activities.
Many of the strategies recommended from research can be supported by reading at home:
- High quality adult-child interactions (often described as 'talking with children' rather than 'talking to children') - talking to your child about the characters in a book, what they like about a book, what descriptive passages are telling the reader, how the plot is developing or what your child has learnt from the book. (Further guidance on 'Questions for Reading' can be found below).
- Shared reading, reading to your child, or story telling all help to extend your child's vocabulary.
- Reading comprehension - discussing the questions or prompts that can be found at the back of reading scheme books.
Below you will find books which are recommended for children in Key Stage 2. You might like to refer to these book lists when selecting books for your child to read.
QUESTIONS FOR READING
- What does the main character look like?
- How does the book begin?
- When and where did the story take place?
- Where in the book would you find ... ?
- Who are the main characters?
- Which part do you like best?
- From whose point of view is the story being told?
- What might this mean?
- What is the book about?
- What is happening?
- Can you think of another story with a similar ... ?
- Can you think of another story character similar to a character in this book?
- Have you had similar experiences?
- Which stories have openings like this?
- Can you think of another author who writes in a similar style?
- How has the author used description to show how the character is feeling?
- How does the layout help ... ?
- Can you explain why ... ?
- Why did the author choose these words?
- What evidence can you use to support your view?
- Who would you recommend this book to?
- Did it have an effective ending?
- Which text is more persuasive? Why?
- Which parts of the text could be improved?
- Which text/story is better? Why?
- What would this character think?
- Have the views in this text affected your opinion?
- Using the evidence in the text, what do you think about ... ?
- If you were the main character, how would you have reacted to this?
- Are there any other reasons why this might have happened?