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How Rooted in Reading could promote reading for pleasure in your primary school

I realise that readers may be stumbling upon Rooted in Reading on line without knowing much about it and thought therefore it might help to write a series of explanatory posts, providing the background to the project and explaining how it could be used in different types of schools. With the draft National Curriculum Programme published in February 2013 having well over 100 references to reading, including exhortations such as

Schools should do everything to promote wider reading

the focus will clearly be on this aspect of school’s work which Rooted in Reading can do so much to enhance. So, here is the first post, with a focus on primary schools.

There are a number of different passports suitable for use in primary schools and they are designed to promote a range of different types of reading.

Parents and carers reading to their children There is a great deal of research which suggests that children who are read to at home are more successful in school, both in reading and academically in general. With this in mind, we developed Sharing Stories and Rhymes and Reading Together. The former is intended for parents and carers of pre-school children, while the latter aims to encourage them to continue to share books after the child has started in primary school. Both have spaces where both the parent/carer and the child can reflect on what they thought of the book and there is also some straight-forward guidance on different ways of sharing books and examples of how to complete the passport entries. When an entry is collected the child can use a sticker showing the Rooted in Reading logo to complete the page. Clearly the child’s entry could also be written by the parent/carer at first but as she or he grows they will soon be able to add a drawing or copy a key word or two from the text. As each passport has room for 12 books, the idea is that they could be completed over about a month and then a new one started perhaps a year later, growing into a wonderful collection of memories of the special time spent sharing books at different stages in the child’s development.

Children reading independently At its heart, Rooted in Reading is about promoting the enjoyment of independent reading. The blue reading passport is ideal for this. the headings gently guide young readers towards a wider range of genres and book types. Originally this passport had Key Stage 1 printed on the cover but in later editions we have removed this to give teachers more flexibility to use the passports where they are most suitable.

Children who get through the blue passport can move on to the green one which has very similar headings but requires the reading of twice as many books and has smaller spaces for these older children’s more controlled handwriting. All the passports listed in this article can be ordered from the Lincolnshire Teaching School Alliance, using the order form you can download here, along with the stamps.

Children reading in groups As many adults will testify, being part of a reading group can be a very powerful shared experience. To help schools to develop reading groups we devised the Reader’s Passport. This has general prompts at the beginning and the end that can be used as a focus during the reading process and for discussion of a shared text, thus helping to develop generic reading skills in a way that book-specific questions cannot do. This passport could also be used by Greenaway/Carnegie shadowing groups to give pupils a place to develop their response to the text but the design of the passport is such that it is perfectly appropriate for use by adult reading groups too. In fact all the 400+ reading groups attached to the Lincolnshire Library Service have been sent copies for all their members.

Developing a reading community At the heart of the Rooted in Reading project is the Community Passport. With the same logo and design feel as the other passports, but in a much larger A4 format, these are designed to be placed in public areas of a school or library so that all members of the community can contribute details of what they are currently reading and can comment on what others are reading. Seeing that not only pupils and teachers read widely for pleasure but that governors, visiting consultants, community police officers and parents do too can have a really positive impact on reading in your school.

Rewarding Reading.

On a day to day basis, pupils’ reading can be powerfully endorsed by the use of the Rooted in Reading stamp. This features the excellent Rooted in Reading logo, designed by the project designer, Rob Whitney. Stamping the passports makes sense of the concept and pupils love this endorsement of their reading, as you can hear if you watch the Rooted in Reading primary film.

Teacher’s Passport Pupils are unlikely to read if their teachers are not keen readers too. With this in mind, we developed the Teacher’s Passport. With many more pages than the pupils’ versions, an introduction described by Geoff Barton as


and useful lists of prize winning novels, these passports enable teachers to keep, in one place, records of their responses to everything they read and ideas about how they might use this reading in their teaching.

Cultural Enrichment Passport Recently we have also produced a passport designed to expand pupils’ cultural experiences. This encourages pupils to write about cultural events they have attended or played an active part in and it would help schools to meet the recommendations of the 2012 Henley Review of cultural education and provide evidence for the SMSC aspect of Ofsted inspections.

All the passports can be ordered easily through the Lincolnshire Teaching School Alliance. Sets of 50 of the basic A6 size passports cost £16 or just 32p each with any profits going back into the development of the project and the Alliance. If you have further queries about the project or would like me to send sample passports to your school, please send a direct message with your details to my twitter account, @stevewillshaw.

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