Thursday, 1 March 2018

Inspiring A Love of Reading

If you ask an adult for their earliest memory of stories, books and reading they will often recall the oral tales told by parents, grandparents or the “classic” stories, which adults read to young children. However, since the Industrial Revolution, governments and some employers are often quoted as seeing a decline in literacy, which in turn affects our nation’s ability to compete with the world. (Brown, 2007).

The development of early language and literacy begins in the first three years of life and is closely linked to a child's earliest experiences with books and stories. Current research demonstrates the critical role of these early experiences in shaping brain development.

Views on learning literacy:
Learners should understand and experience the purposes and functions of language before learning to manipulate its constituent parts. 
Oral and written language have to be learned in meaningful and enjoyable circumstances, and thus children construct language as they use it.
Certain conditions support this approach with children, such as: 
  • immersion in print, 
  • demonstration of how print and books are used,
“Nurture shapes nature”
Giving children an appreciation of a wide range of literature underpins and supports their development of understanding in reading by providing meaningful experience of rhythm, sequence and narrative, tone and intonation, pauses, rhyme, and alliteration. Stories and poems help children understand sequence and narrative, as well as creating meaning, writing sentences, composing their own stories, and making their own non-fiction books based on their interests.

Early literacy research states that:
  • Language, reading, and writing skills develop at the same time and are intimately linked;
  • Early literacy development is a continuous developmental process that begins in the early years;
  • Early literacy skills develop in real-life settings through positive interactions with literacy materials and other people.
Using books:
Children with individual needs will need support in developing a range of appropriate behaviours with books. These will include:
  • The physical manipulation or handling of books, such as page turning rather than chewing, tearing or throwing them;
  • Learning to look at and pay attention to pictures in books;
  • Learning to show recognition of and a beginning of understanding of pictures in books, such as pointing to pictures of familiar objects;
  • Gaining an understanding of pictures, events and story comprehension such as imitating an action seen in a picture or talking about the events in a story; and
  • Verbally interacting with stories and books alongside increasing their understanding of print in books such as babbling in imitation of reading or running fingers along printed words
Encouraging children with special educational needs to enjoy books
A climate of fun and multi-sensory experience that is based in children’s interests is key to making books and reading enjoyable. Ideally practitioners should not be building barriers but breaking them down according to the unique needs of the children. These can be assisted by the following ideas:
  • Encouraging a variety of reading role-models to boost self-esteem alongside skills, e.g. older children and parents.
  • Using books with a range of positive images so children can recognize themselves and children like them, including making books about them.
  • Bringing in real authors, poets and illustrators to share their enthusiasm, having researched their ability to communicate with the children in your school/setting.
  • Providing daily routines such as story times every day in comfortable environments, alongside flexibility (e.g. indoors and outside). Some children with particular needs may need one-to-one stories using such useful tools as multi-sensory Book Boxes in order to understand the concept of story time.

Teaching language and literacy via the use of books demands the highest quality teaching. This in turn requires knowledge, insight and curiosity about how children learn and develop alongside their unique interests and needs. Practitioners need to:
  • display a genuine commitment to holistic learning
  • practise joyful, playful teaching and learning.
  • show a problem-solving disposition themselves and a ‘can-do’ attitude 

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