The Open University: Reading for Pleasure (RfP) is essential to children’s education

Contributed by Professor Teresa Cremin

Professor of Education (Literacy)

Fri 3 Sep 2021

Wednesday 8 September marks International Literacy Day and The Open University’s Reading for Pleasure programme would like to give a timely reminder to governments, civil society and educators to reflect on the world’s remaining literacy challenges, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reading for Pleasure (RfP) offers so many significant benefits to children, including increased attainment in literacy and numeracy; improved general knowledge; richer vocabulary; support in identity exploration; and enhancement of imagination and empathy. It is no surprise then, that governments around the world are now paying attention to RfP as a core strand of supporting literacy and reading attainment.

Ofsted is, in fact, looking to see evidence of a rich and wide reading curriculum, encompassing lots of reading aloud to children, and with children to support reading by themselves. Developing a love of reading is officially recognised in the United Kingdom as being essential to children’s education.

Schools are responding to the reading agenda – and so must we

Schools are seeking ways to demonstrate their commitment to this agenda and showcase their schools as reading communities. Many have refurbished their libraries, and some have even purchased double-decker buses, tents, sheds, tree houses and caravans to deck out, as well as cushions, carpets and sofas to enrich classroom reading areas.

These often-colourful spaces indicate to parents, governors, Ofsted inspectors and children that the school values reading. However, success is hugely dependent on supplying a rich array of texts and ensuring opportunities for children and teachers to engage in informal book chat in these spaces.

Booka2All blog: The Open University: Reading for Pleasure (RfP) is essential to children’s education by Teresa Cremin
Schools do what they can to create attractive reading areas

As a society, we must continue to ensure children have access to a rich range of reading material both inside and outside school. The National Literacy Trust recently reported that, although many children read and enjoyed reading more during lockdown, those children and young people without access to books (due to the closure of schools and libraries) had seen a negative effect on their ability to read and their motivation to read for enjoyment.

There are many ways in which schools and parents can nurture a love of reading in children. In fact, our website is packed with practical tips and ideas for how to ignite and inspire children’s desire to read, both in the classroom and at home.

If you’re a parent, guardian or teacher, why not try some of the following ideas to encourage the children in your life to read more and enjoy the wonderful world of storytelling:

Open University RfP tip 1: read award-winning books

Most book awards have their own website listing winning entries over the years. These are a great place to start looking for titles that grab your attention. We suggest:

Open University RfP tip 2: read knee- or thigh-high

  • Reading up to your knee- or thigh-height in books is a fun, yet challenging, way to make reading appeal to children.

Open University RfP tip 3: take the 52-book challenge

Booka2All blog: The Open University: Reading for Pleasure (RfP) is essential to children’s education by Teresa Cremin
  • Join a reading challenge such as the 52 Book Club annual readathon and share each book with a friend once you’ve read it.

Open University RfP tip 4: create a library shelf

Booka2All blog: The Open University: Reading for Pleasure (RfP) is essential to children’s education by Teresa Cremin
  • Create your own library shelf so you can display, discuss and recommend texts.

Open University RfP tip 5: read outside your comfort zone

Booka2All blog: The Open University: Reading for Pleasure (RfP) is essential to children’s education by Teresa Cremin
  • If you normally like comics or magazines, try graphic novels, world literature, non-fiction and poetry or vice versa.

Open University RfP tip 6: create a reading den

  • Create your own nice cosy space to explore the tempting texts you find.

Teachers – we know you like reading too

Teachers’ reading groups are a fantastic way of staying up-to-date with reading for pleasure. These groups provide free CPD for teachers, teaching assistants, early years professionals, librarians and others to enrich their understanding of reading for pleasure and how to support children as readers. To date, The Open University and the UK Literacy Association have supported 300 teachers’ reading groups in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Dubai and Pakistan.   

Thank you for visiting our blog. Our vision here at Books2All is a world where every child finds the books that help them reach their true potential. If you have spare books in good condition at home that you think might be appropriate for school children, please sign up for our app’s pre-release waiting list. If you represent a school, please register to receive books for your students.

Top inset image courtesy of tirachard – www.freepik.com
Inset book awards image courtesy of makyzz – www.freepik.com
Inset book club image courtesy of grmarc – www.freepik.com
Inset comfort zone image courtesy of freepik – www.freepik.com
Inset reading den image courtesy of Painted png from pngtree.com/

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