Thursday, 18 June 2015

Reading for Pleasure

This article first appeared in The Teacher magazine, May-June 2015

Over 40 teachers took part in the NUT’s annual Reading for Pleasure Conference at Stoke Rochford Hall in April. Now in its fourth year, the conference was led by award winning children’s author, NUT member and successful campaigner Alan Gibbons.

Alan stresses the absolute importance of encouraging children to read for pleasure, explaining that while phonics can help with decoding, research shows that children need to be surrounded by books to develop a lifelong love of reading.

A range of guest speakers and workshop leaders also helped teachers engage with reading. Award winning author Bali Rai addressed the lack of diversity in children’s publishing, discussing the importance of reflecting all children’s experiences if we are to engage them in books and reading.
Paul Register from Comics Literacy Awareness (CLAw) spoke about the role of comic books and graphic novels in building a love of reading. Paul’s talk, entitled ‘Using lines and circles to improve literacy standards’, demonstrated the breadth and depth of the graphic genre – utilising examples from Britain and the US.

The NUT hosted an exhibition of comic books in 1954 as part of a campaign to ban comics because of their “excessive emphasis on acts of brutality and crime.” Fortunately the world of comic books and the awareness of the Union have both moved on since those days!

Meanwhile actor and comedian Philip Simon led a session focusing on the use of puppets to engage children in stories and reading. Similarly, Tas Emiabata from Shakespeare’s Globe led a session focusing on active engagement with Shakespeare’s stories for young people – all participants were involved in acting out and engaging with the story and text of Macbeth.

Kate Boddy led a popular and successful workshop focusing on poetry, entitled ‘Rhythm and Rhyme – Performance Time’ which focused on supporting teachers to actively engage in poetry to support children’s engagement with words and rhythm. Finally, Karen Robinson (formally the NUT’s Head of Education and Equalities) led a workshop concentrating on the latest research on the wider curriculum impact of encouraging children to read for pleasure.

Reading for Pleasure is just one of the Creativity in the Classroom professional development opportunities offered. Other programmes include a partnership with the Globe to inspire and develop the teaching of Shakespeare plays, and Into Film to raise attainment in the classroom through the medium of film.

To find out more and to apply visit www.teachers.org.uk/courses

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