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St Margaret's year seven book club

Reading matters

St Margaret's Academy explains why it's so important to encourage teenagers to pick up a book

Posted by Stephanie Broad | January 29, 2016 | Teaching

In today’s digital environment, it would be easy to argue that books no longer have a place on our shelves. Entertainment can be found in our favourite television programmes and games consoles, while facts and figures can now all be looked up online in a few quick clicks. Although technology is of course invaluable in education, it is increasingly important that we do not lose sight of the importance of reading for pleasure.  

With children said to spend up to six or more hours behind a screen each day, it is vital to encourage reading. This is especially important in formative teenage years, where good reading habits can have a crucial impact on their education and cognitive development.

The benefits of reading go above and beyond the obvious development of vocabulary and improvement of writing, but can also work to open new lines of communication, broaden the imagination, and encourage youngsters to re-evaluate how they interpret the world around them. 

L-R: Sandra Howarth and Dr Daniel Silverstone

Of course, children are reading in school on a daily basis. But what we are aiming to encourage at St Margaret’s is for our pupils to pick up a book, not because they have to for their school work, but because they want to.

St Margaret’s has always known that reading matters. As such, we strive to make reading an integral part of our daily routine within the school and to make reading material accessible to all pupils. We have long been proud of our large, well-stocked and much loved library, where pupils can pick up a copy of the latest page-turner. All boys in the school carry a reading book with them as a matter of course, and form tutors encourage their pupils to read on a regular basis in morning registration time. This means that reading has once again become commonplace throughout the school day.  

With latest research from the National Literacy Trust showing that only one in four boys read outside of class every day, it has become increasingly important to implement targeted methods to get our boys reading. Our ethos is to keep reading social, as boys are more likely to engage in a group setting with their peers. Form time has become a place for pupil-led book swaps and an opportunity for staff to share their recommendations with their pupils. In an environment where everybody is reading, it becomes easier to develop good reading habits. Our buddy scheme has also been particularly effective, which has seen our year sevens paired up with our year 12 ‘reading revolutionaries’, who have been acted as mentors for the younger pupils. Peer-to-peer reading has proved an excellent way to develop confidence in younger pupils, while building strong relationships across the school and encouraging leadership initiatives in our sixth form.

Year 12 Reading Revolutionaries

This year we also employed the services of a ‘reader in residence’ from The Reader Organisation, who has vastly improved the reading skills of our more reluctant readers through participation in weekly shared reading groups.

The school has recently been awarded the Liverpool Reading Quality Mark (LRQM), designed to promote the enjoyment of reading amongst children. The award is confirmation of the value the school places on reading and that both staff and pupils at St Margaret’s realise the impact good reading habits can have.

Participation in these initiatives across the school has helped to foster a culture of reading for pleasure within our pupils, which we certainly intend to nurture and build upon further. 

Sandra Howarth is Resources Centre Manager and and Dr Daniel Silverstone is Assistant Principal at St Margaret’s Academy in Liverpool.    

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