Reading Curriculum Narrative

‘Reading must be taught properly, accurately and with a verve that instils excitement and pleasure’.

The above quote from Jane Considine is from her text ‘Hooked on Books’, a comprehensive book based on extensive research into how best to develop children as lifelong readers.

Across our Flourish Federation we endeavour to nurture a love of books to develop lifelong readers. To achieve this, we have adopted principles and practice from ‘Hooked on Books’ to develop children’s powers of imagination, inventiveness and critical awareness. We know children love stories. They internalise their patterns and language so we choose texts in English as ‘hooks in’ to other curriculum subjects, such as  Geography, History, RE and Science. For example, in Year 6, The Switch by Anthony Horowitz, is a ‘hook’ into the History unit Crime and Punishment as it centres on rich and spoilt Tad who swaps bodies with poor, badly treated Bob and is thrown into a dark world of hapless criminals.

From Nursery, children are immersed in an environment rich in high quality picture books. Children are taught to listen to and talk about the stories they hear, to express their opinions and to chant and repeat  the words and patterns of language in stories, poems and songs. Children are introduced to well known book characters and settings.Their curriculum centres on high quality picture books with the aim to open up new worlds to these little learners.

In Reception and Key Stage 1, children continue to listen to stories, poems and songs. From the start of Reception and throughout Key Stage 1, children are taught  phonics using the Storytime Phonics programme which uses ‘real’ books to engage children in learning their sounds. Systematic daily phonics teaching provides  children with the mechanics/skills to decode words. Children take home reading scheme books that are well matched to the sounds they have been taught. We instruct our children to be ‘responsible readers’ to encourage them to daily practice their reading at home to a parent, carer, older sibling, teddy or a pet!

Reading cannot be all about the mechanics but the mechanics is essential if the ‘magic’ is to be discovered’ (Jane Considine). Children are taught to talk about and understand the stories they have read.

‘Book Talk’ helps children to articulate their opinions about characters and events laying foundations for written comprehension. Teachers model this ‘Book Talk’ by reading some sentences slowly, lingering on a sentence to unpick its meaning and explaining the language choices of the author. In so doing, teachers model the reader’s internal dialogue making explicit the reader’s thought processes.

Children are taught to talk about books using the Reading Rainbow (see picture below), a one page visual summary of all required skills in reading which provides a shared language for the whole school from Reception to Year 6. The lenses give the children a visual tool to use to help them become confident explorers of a range of texts. The Reading Rainbow has three tiers:

  • Fantastics: the ideas of writing or the content of sentences
  • Stylistics: the understanding of reading or comprehension. These are the language structures children need in order to engage in dialogues about books.
  • Analytics: the competencies of writing including inference, deduction, explaining the deeper message of the book and making sensible predictions.

In Key Stage 1 and 2 children are taught reading through paired or group reading, ‘book talk’, lessons modelling comprehension answers and written comprehension completed independently by the children. Each reading lesson the children focus on three lenses, one from each tier. Children are ‘reading detectives’ using the lens to find evidence within the text. Much oral practice of comprehension answers takes place as it is unlikely a child would be able to write a comprehension answer before mastering how to say it first. Research shows that children lack knowledge of ‘tier 2 words’ which encompass academic words so they need to be taught and modelled explicitly.

Once a child is a free reader they can choose to read a book from home, the public library, the school or class libraries. Each class has an inviting and well-stocked reading area with both modern and classic fiction, poetry and nonfiction books. Staff read books for their age group so they can recommend titles to children with genuine knowledge and enthusiasm. Dedicated timetabled time is given to children to read for enjoyment and teachers daily read to their class. In these ways, we aim to foster lifelong readers and open up a wealth of words and worlds for our children.

It is an agreed essential in our Federation that our classes promote a wow reading area in every classroom so that we instil a love of reading……..