Getting your pupls reading

Written by: Sean Daley | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

The reading ethos at Wylam First School is impressive, as was shown by their performance in the 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge earlier this year. Sean Daley explains how they have created 160 little bookworms

Wylam First School takes pride in the love of reading they have instilled in their children, from nursery through to year 4.

And this was shown earlier this year when the school took part in the 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge, which encourages children around the world to collectively read for 200 million minutes.

We took part in March and our school read the most average number of minutes per-pupil than any other primary school, clocking up 688,735 minutes in just 26 days!

Our children have always had a love for reading. Naturally some are more enthusiastic than others but we are committed to developing our children’s reading abilities from the moment they step through our door, to the moment they leave us, using different methods and ideas to keep our young children engaged.

Making reading a key part of day-to-day school life

Reading is promoted heavily through our school curriculum and timetable. We ensure there is a strong focus on literacy each year by creating a long-term, yearly plan, that outlines the types of stories and poetry we will cover with our children.

By breaking down the types of stories and poetry for each half-term, we can ensure we are providing a vast range of different texts for our children to read and explore. We cover stories with patterned language and predictable phrasing, fantasy stories and traditional tales. We also look at stories about the wild and stories from different cultures as well as looking at myths and legends and quest stories.

It is not just about text books

We feel exploring different types of texts and reading sources, like comics, magazines, interactive stories and newspapers really helps provide children with a rounded experience of reading.

We have created Reading for Pleasure time in our timetable where every week children explore different texts. We also encourage not just individual reading but reading with others, whether that be in pairs, as a small group, a whole class or even in assemblies.

Engaging parents

We are very lucky that our parents are engaging and support their children with reading at home but inviting parents and carers into the classroom has also proved to be highly beneficial.

Our children are always encouraged to bring in books or texts from home and talk about them with the class, but with this challenge in particular we invited parents to read with their children and other pupils in school. The parents themselves enjoyed this so much that many continue to come into school to support reading progress on a regular basis.

Make reading fun

Taking part in reading challenges like 200 Million Minutes provided us with another focus. We entered the challenge to encourage our children to explore a range of books and literature for different purposes – we wanted the children to understand the importance of reading and how it has an impact on all aspects of life and future prospects. We also wanted to encourage them to read more at home.

We were provided with bookmarks for children to log their minutes but the children loved this challenge so much that the bookmarks were not big enough, so we had to create A4 log books so they could keep track of all their home minutes! Taking part in challenges like this helps enthuse even our most reluctant readers.

We are all extremely proud of our pupils. We have had Ben in year 3 read more books than ever before, challenging himself to read more than the day before and exploring different types of books and literature from the school, library, at home and through reading leaflets and magazines. Meanwhile, Izzy in year 1 challenged herself to try “a big girl book” and soon found herself reading chapters every day.

We were completely blown away that our little rural first school read the most average number of minutes per pupil than any other primary school in the 200 Million Minutes Challenge, beating other schools in France, India, Italy, America, Canada and Australia!

The impact reading has on every aspect of life and achievement is immense. We are very proud of all our pupils and their reading abilities, and our staff for making reading enjoyable.

  • Sean Daley is literacy and music lead at Wylam First School, a one-form entry school in Northumberland.

Further information & resources

For details on Achievement for All and the 200 Million Minutes Reading Challenge, visit https://200millionminutes.org/ and https://afaeducation.org/


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