The power of reading

As school life moves into the new year, it is increasingly important for children and young people to strengthen good reading habits.

It is possible that a combination of disruption to school organisation as a result of Covid-19 and the school holidays may have affected regular reading routines, and a joint effort by schools, parents and carers will be needed to help children catch up.

8 simple tips for reading

Good literacy is at the heart of life-long, successful learning, improves mental health and wellbeing, but most of all is a fun and enjoyable experience. By ensuring the right environment and support for reading at home, you will be providing your child with the essential tools for success in school and later life. The link below provides some simple tips.

8 simple tips to support reading

“If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.” – J.K. Rowling

Help with different ages and stages

As children become readers the focus of teaching and support will inevitably change. Your child’s school will advise and guide you on how to support at each stage but here are some general guidelines.

Age 3 to 5

At this age children are really curious about books and love listening to stories.

Schools will be focusing on developing a love of stories, developing vocabulary and showing children how books work. Early phonics work will include learning the sounds of letters and blending letters together to read simple words. Many early years settings engage in the making it a REAL project (Raising Early Achievement in Literacy). This highlights the importance of the home learning environment to support and develop early literacy. You can help by:

  • reading with your child every day and making it fun
  • reading and rereading picture books and talking about the story and the pictures
  • encouraging and praising independent attempts to read part or all of a simple book (even when not technically accurate).

Age 5 to 7

At this age children are rapidly developing their reading skills.

They are learning to decode words using their developing phonic skills but also to read for meaning and are beginning to show some fluency and expression. You can help by:

  • listening to your child reading every day
  • encouraging more independent reading (whilst still supporting when necessary)
  • asking a question or two to check they are understanding what they read.

Age 7 to 11

At this age most children have developed good decoding and early comprehension skills and the focus is now on developing more complex skills such as inference (reading between the lines), identifying and explaining themes and making comparisons between books.

You can help by:

  • encouraging daily reading, helping with fluency and expression – sometimes by modelling the reading
  • discussing the book / text and asking questions
  • asking your child to give a summary of what they are reading.

Age 11+

At this age most young people are independent readers and the focus in Secondary School is to be able to read, discuss and respond to a wide variety of texts, both orally and in an essay type format. These skills are vital for exams in KS4.

You can help by:

  • encouraging your teenager to continue to read regularly, from a range of different genres
  • discussing the book/text and asking questions
  • talking about your personal reading choices, both as a teenager and as an adult.

Further guidance for reading and writing activities for all ages is provided in the Literacy Guide below.

Literacy guide for parents and carers (English)

Literacy guide for parents and carers (Portuguese)

Literacy guide for parents and carers (Polish)

Children who use English as an additional language

It is important to help your child as much as you can with learning the English language.

There are many ways that you can do this. These include:

  • learning some basic words to help e.g. with mathematics and science where words may be similar in different languages
  • listening to your child reading to you in both English and your home language
  • encouraging your child to work out words. Give them clues to help them. ‘Little Linguist’ and ‘Mantra Lingua’ sell lovely multilingual books. Look at ‘World Stories’ and ‘Unite for Literacy’ for more ideas
  • watching films in your home language and English. Watch the same films, first in your home language and then in English. Encourage your children to say the words in the opposite language to the one on screen! Make a game of it where you have two or more children
  • meeting with families who speak other languages, when possible. Encourage the children to play together. Practise your English as well as theirs with other language speakers

We know you speak languages other than English at home, and as shown in the examples above, it is just as important to continue to use your child’s home language as it is for them to speak English.

You can read to your child at home in your first language and use your first language to help them with their homework, but it is really beneficial to your child if you can also try to include English words (both written and spoken) as this will aid their language learning and development at school.

Catch up support

Our schools offer a wide range of catch up programmes to support children and young people to get back on track with reading.

In primary schools, support initiatives may include Reading Recovery, Reading Response, Boosting Reading@Primary and catch up phonics programmes. For those children with greater literacy needs there are bespoke interventions, and specialist SEN advice and support is available in schools.

Secondary schools offer interventions such as Lexia and Reading +, and utilise older students and volunteers to read with their younger peers. There is also support for young people who qualify for additional time or resources in exams or tests. If your child has received some extra intervention support, the following information leaflets may be helpful.

Supporting your child after a literacy intervention programme (primary)

Supporting your child after a literacy intervention programme (secondary)

Every Child Our Future (ECOF)

ECOF is a charity that works alongside schools and the Department for Children, Young People, Education and Skills (CYPES) to support early reading.

ECOF recognise that some children need more reading practice, or they risk falling behind their peers.

A key part of the charity’s work is to recruit and train volunteers to go into local schools to listen to children read, to help them catch up with their peers and to enjoy reading. If you’d like to find out more about becoming a volunteer, please email ECOF or visit the ECOF website 

Reluctant readers

Children and young people can become reluctant readers for a variety of different reasons.

They may find the whole process of learning to read difficult and become anxious about reading aloud. They may just lose interest in reading as other interests take precedence. With the ever-increasing use of technology some children and young people are less inclined to open a book but of course reading doesn’t need to be paper based.

To help motivate reluctant readers try some of these ideas:

  • for younger readers, take it in turns to read alternate pages – this takes the pressure off a little and allows the adult to model the reading
  • make sure the book is not too difficult. Struggling to read something takes all the fun out of it
  • short stories, joke books and comic strip books often appeal to reluctant readers
  • encourage choice and variety of reading. Children may have a preference for non-fiction, so magazines, recipes and even instructions for building / assembling things can be of interest
  • provide opportunities for reading online. Using an iPad or eReader often works well
  • reignite interest in reading by finding books or articles based on your child’s interests
  • find an author or book series that will ‘hook them back in to reading’. If they are excited about the book, they will want to read the next one. The section below on choosing books provides useful information and links
  • listen to audio books to promote engagement with stories

Choosing books

With a multitude of brilliant new and established authors, it can be really difficult for children and the adults who buy for them to choose an appropriate book.

In Jersey we have an excellent library service with personnel who are always passionate about reading and extremely knowledgeable regarding new authors for different age ranges. Any good bookshop with helpful staff will guide and support you in choosing books for children. The link below allows you to browse through books in different categories including age and text type. If friends or relatives are stuck for a birthday present this is a great place to start!

Lovereading4kids website

Jersey Library

Jersey Library is a great place for finding new and interesting books.

Find out more about the services and events on offer here.

Exciting opportunities for more reading and writing at home

Here are some recommendations for poetry books for all ages.

Poems from National Poetry Day