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  • Storytellers and reading aloud - Alec Williams

    Storytellers and reading aloud - a young girl is picking a book from a bookshelf

    Classroom cliff hangers and library legends

    Once upon a time, when chickens still had teeth, and horses still had feathers...

    Have I got your attention? Stories do that, too, and this post is about storytelling and reading aloud. Stories grab and enthral, they stimulate thinking, they play with language, they celebrate listening – and they’re a high-octane way to motivate children, and model reading for pleasure.

    All your pupils need the experience of stories (whether told from memory, read aloud, or on audio books), especially if they’re struggling with reading. They need to be reminded of the delights to come when they become more fluent.

    By itself, reading is potentially a quiet and isolating activity. Reading groups, author events and online book chats are challenging this, but speaking aloud challenges the stereotype even more, bringing a buzz to books in class, and making it ‘loud in the library!’

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  • A Powerhouse for Reading (and why your school should have one!) – Alec Williams

    Reading for Pleasure

    Imagine a warm, colourful space where children can sit, or lounge, on the carpet – and just read: read what they’ve chosen themselves; read without follow-up tests; browse, skip and skim; become glued to books or magazines, or discard them at will; gaze at pictures as well as soaking up words.  Imagine them talking to each other excitedly about what they’ve just read, or the amazing facts they’ve discovered from books or IT devices. Imagine a space that they feel is theirs; one that says ‘Be yourself’ rather than ‘Be careful’. And, in whatever size the space may be, imagine that (in Ted Hughes’s phrase) they’ll ‘turn the key to the whole world.’ (1)

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  • Ploys for Boys – with Girls Allowed! How to get boys reading (or even reading more) - Alec Williams

    Two young boys reading

    "Boys do read - sometimes more than girls. They just don't talk about it as much, or pretend they're reading, as some girls do, to keep you happy!" The authentic voice of real-life experience from leading school librarian Eileen Armstrong, with whom I collaborated to produce the government-backed ‘Boys into Books’ initiative back in 2007. Is the issue of boys’ reading still ‘a thing’, 14 years on? 

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  • What does a whole-school reading culture look like?

    Whole school reading culture

    ‘If I visited your school’, I often ask teachers and school librarians, ‘would I know that it’s a school that values reading… before I got to the library?’ (This assumes the library’s lively, well-stocked, welcoming, and used). ‘Would I see photographs of a recent author visit on your entrance area’s computer screen? Would I see, at child’s-eye level in the corridors, jumbled book titles, ‘children’s picks’, and author bios? Are there poems in unusual places, like the back of toilet cubicle doors?   

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