In St. John’s Primary, we are always looking for new and exciting ways to get our children reading for pleasure and engaging with books. This has become even more important with the added challenge of our pupils working from home. Throughout the year we had been gaining momentum in increasing the opportunities for children to read for pleasure and be more motivated to undertake reading tasks and we were keen that we did not lose this during the shut down.
How we rose to the challenge
All of our staff joined the First Minister’s Reading Challenge and made a video for the children about a favourite book that they were reading. We shared these with our children on our home learning portals and our school twitter page and we got a fantastic reaction from the children and parents. The children loved seeing familiar faces from the school, sharing their love of books. So we set the children a weekly challenge to do the same and so far, we have had many fantastic, interesting book reviews all sharing their love for reading. We have had videos, PowerPoints, comic strips, detailed posters, all submitted virtually.
To ensure we sustain this until the summer, each week, we have a different theme linked to their book and so far we have looked at favourite characters, non-fiction books, front covers, researching the author and comparing a film and a novel, with the final theme that they have to write their own short story. To encourage participation, we announce a class winner every week on our school twitter page and highlight all of the fantastic work from the children. From fact to fiction and beyond, we are encouraging a reading culture in our school and at home. We also hope that parents will join in and model this for their children by sharing a review of their favourite book or character from a book.
There has always been a strong focus in our school on mental health of children, families and staff and a significant amount of our PEF funding supports initiatives linked to a healthy body and mind. Every week in school we have ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ and every 2 weeks we focus on staff wellbeing as well. As part of our health initiative, we extended our reading challenges to be the focus on Wellbeing Wednesdays. Our theme was reading for pleasure and how children can find an escape with a book. We encouraged the children to look at books that transport you to another place that you might not normally experience. Reading for enjoyment can play a vital role in helping children lead happy and healthy lives. We organised fun, exciting challenges that the children could easily participate in at home and used lots of Scottish Book Trust resources such as BBC Authors Live and virtual passports.
Children are encouraged to complete their virtual reading passports and video book reviews every week and show off what they have been reading. We are happy to see that a lot of our pupils are still enjoying taking part in challenges and reading for pleasure at home.