Reflecting on #ReadingRocks - The Power of talking about Books

There was a lot I took away from #ReadingRocks_17 last week. The keynotes from @TeresaCremin reminded me of how important Reading for Pleasure really is. As she stated, the research shows Reading for Pleasure has the biggest impact on children's success when they grow up. The website she mention ResearchRichPedagogies, has some great information for how to promote Reading for Pleasure in your school. These awesome sketch notes from @Cazzash picked up the main points from her keynote:

It was the same with @MaryMyatt's keynote, a lot to think about echoing a similar message. Again here is another sketchnote from @Cazzash:

A big message from the day was emphasising how important it is for teachers to be readers. I completely agree and this is the similar message I share on my training as well as the work I do with John Murray. I have to admit, before my journey into the world of consultancy, I didn't read a lot for pleasure, usually only on holiday. For me, things changed when a) I became a Dad and b) I found a purpose for writing.

Back when we first started using iPads in class, I had never written anything for pleasure in my life. I wasn't a good writer and never felt the need to write beyond what my job expected. As soon as I saw the immediate impact the iPads were having in my school, I felt the need to share and so started this blog. Straight from the get-go, teachers from all over the world engaged with the blog: reading the posts, using them and sharing the results. For the first time in my life, I had a purpose for writing, I had an audience. This encouraged me to not only write more but also read more too. I noticed the quality of my writing improving dramatically, this came from having a purpose but also reading a lot more for pleasure. This has undeniably had an impact on the quality of my teaching of reading and writing in school.

I also felt the need to constantly set a good example with my own children. From being babies, I have always read with them before bed, buying books as a treat and enjoying and discussing good stories. For someone who promotes the use of technology, my own children don't have their own devices and tend to only use an iPad if they are creating content over just consuming. I'm not saying they don't consume, just compared to some of my family and friends we are very conscious of the amount of screen time they have. Books on the other hand, I try to flood them with as many books as possible.

My sons struggle with decoding, this has been an issue in school for a couple of years. They show great knowledge and understanding when talking about books but independently reading, they struggle with phonics and decoding. We noticed this started to affect them reading and we saw them becoming disengaged and not enjoying reading as much. Attending #ReadingRocks_17 reminded me of how Reading for Pleasure can come in many different forms.

It was great to sit in @Smithsmm's session about delving deeper into picture books. Years ago, John Murray led training in my school and demonstrated how powerful picutre books can be and since then every year group use a picture book to do a unit of English. The Arrival, Flotsam, The Mysteries of Harrus Burdick and Tuesday are a few we have used.

Following Simon Smith on twitter is an absolute must! What an inspiring headteacher! To hear from a leader who values reading and reading for pleasure so much really struck a chord with me. The messages coming through his session really linked well to my session around ReadWritePerform but also a lot of the ideas I share on my INSET and CPD around using technology to provide rich talk around different books.

I immediately ordered the book he shared in the session and my boys have loved reading it over the past week. It is brilliant and well worth a purchase:

From sharing this with my boys, they loved talking and discussing the pictures and how these added to the story, they haven't put the book down since. They couldn't wait to write about it in their reading journals. In fact, I am planning how I can use this in my school over the next half term. I've then gone on a bit of a spending spree with other amazing books which I want to share with you. Firstly, the other books by Joe Todd Stanton including the follow up to Arthur and The Secret of Black Rock:

Amazon has proved to be dangerous as the suggested books has led me to purchase and enjoy the following:

As an incentive to encourage my own children to try their hardest with their weekly spelling test, I promised that if they do well, we would go to our local Waterstones and they can pick a book. So we spent the afternoon their yesterday and came away with some amazing books that we have enjoyed reading and will definitely sharing in school with my pupils. Again, thanks to Simon who recommended the Grotlyn which is a beautiful book and story. Journey by Aaron Becker is a fantastic wordless picture book. The Journey by Francesca Sanna which left me in tears. And Grandad's Secret Giant which is a great book with a fantastic message.

I felt the need to share these brilliant books as sharing is caring and I am sure if you were to read and share these books with your pupils it will lead to some great discussion and great learning. Even if you don't use them in your English lessons, just read them after break, after lunch and before the end of the day. I cannot tell you how important sharing and reading a book aloud daily is to your pupils. There should never be an excuse not to, trust me, it has such a massive impact. 

Watch this space for what I do with some of these books over the next half term, I cannot tell you how excited I am to share them with my pupils.


  1. Thanks Mr P. I agree, as our OU research suggests teachers with a wide and contemporary knowledge of children's' literature are in a stronger position to build communities of readers who can and DO choose to read. Teachers like you - I'm now off to buy Grandad's secret giant !


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