In an era dominated by screens and digital distractions, the joy of reading for pleasure is at risk of fading away among pupils. In primary schools, cultivating a love for reading is crucial for the complete development of children, enhancing their creativity, critical thinking, and language skills. In this blog post, we will delve into the issue of reading for pleasure, examine how schools can develop a reading culture through initiatives such as the Juniper Book Awards, and explore what other literacy organisations are doing to tackle this issue.
The Decline of Reading in Primary Schools
Recent statistics from government bodies worldwide paint a concerning picture regarding the decline in reading for pleasure among primary school pupils. In the UK for instance, a report by the National Literacy Trust revealed that only 26% of 8 to 11-year-olds read for pleasure daily in 2021, compared to 43% in 2015.
Book ownership also plays a vital role in promoting reading, but sadly, the National Literacy Trust’s annual survey revealed that nearly 400,000 children in the UK do not own a single book. Efforts are being made to provide books to children from disadvantaged backgrounds through initiatives like book-gifting programs.
School libraries are also essential for encouraging good reading habits. However, the Great School Libraries campaign found that nearly 1 in 8 schools in the UK does not have a library. Access to well-stocked libraries with a diverse range of books can significantly impact reading engagement and literacy levels.
Juniper Education offers an Education Resources Subscription, giving schools access to our diverse and broad collection of age-appropriate curriculum and reading for pleasure books and other learning resources.
Understanding the Impact
The diminishing interest in reading for pleasure raises several concerns. Firstly, it can hinder children’s academic progress. Studies have consistently shown that students who read for pleasure tend to achieve higher scores in literacy assessments. Additionally, reading for pleasure nurtures empathy, expands vocabulary, and improves concentration skills.
Taking Action in Primary Schools
There are plenty of things that schools can do to try and tackle this issue. We’ve put together a list of ways teachers and senior leaders can try to cultivate a love for reading in primary schools once more.
Ways to Promote a Positive Reading Culture
Schools must create an environment that celebrates reading and emphasizes its significance. Establishing well-stocked libraries, designating reading spaces, and organizing book clubs or reading challenges are effective ways to promote a reading culture within schools.
Engaging and Diverse Book Selections
Schools should ensure that their book collections reflect the diverse interests, backgrounds, and experiences of their pupils. Offering a wide range of genres, including fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, and poetry, helps capture students’ attention and caters to various reading preferences.
Find out more about our Education Resource Subscription and PAYG loans, as aforementioned, which can offer your pupils an eclectic range of books.
Author Visits and Book Fairs
A recent National Literacy Trust report suggests a clear link between author visits and increased reading and writing engagement. Inviting authors to speak at primary schools can inspire young readers, providing insights into the creative process and the joy of storytelling. Organising book fairs or book-related events further encourages students to explore new books and authors. Book fairs can encourage book ownership and engage parents.
The Juniper Book Awards
Book awards can highlight new titles and create reading communities as pupils share and discuss shortlisted books. The Juniper Book Awards (JBA) is an annual event that celebrates reading for pleasure in children aged 10+ across primary and secondary school education and has been designed to improve literacy and facilitate debate. These awards celebrate children’s fiction and encourage students to read and discuss great books and take part in a range of engaging creative activities inspired by the shortlist.
About the Awards
Pupils are invited to read the six shortlisted books, share their opinions, and submit their own book reviews online, and can also take part in several other award categories including:
- Best Book Trailer – children can create, direct and star in their own film-style trailer to summarise their favourite book.
- Best Creative Award – participants are encouraged to come up with a creative idea linked to one of the shortlisted books. Previous entries have included music, dance, live-action drama video, poetry, and art.
- Most Innovative School – schools can submit evidence describing the innovative ways their school has embraced the JBA.
- Book of The Year – considered the most prestigious award, pupils are asked to judge and vote for the book they consider the best.
The event culminates with a live online ceremony, which each school is invited to attend. The authors of each shortlisted book make a short speech about their involvement in the awards, and of course, this is when the winning school across each of the categories is announced.
How to Take Part
Other Literacy Organisations and Campaigns
BookTrust is a national charity that aims to inspire a love of reading by providing children with books and resources. Schools can access their programmes and support, such as Bookstart and Bookbuzz.
National Literacy Trust
The National Literacy Trust provides resources, research and training opportunities for primary schools all focussed on encourage more children to read for pleasure. The organisation also runs the World of Stories programme in partnership with Puffin, which gives primary schools books, materials, training and resources to champion reading for pleasure across the whole school.
Reviving the pleasure of reading among primary school children in the UK requires concerted efforts from schools, literacy organisations, and education service providers such as Juniper Education. By promoting a positive reading culture, offering diverse book selections, and engaging with reading initiatives, schools can rekindle the joy of reading in their pupils. Moreover, involvement in the Juniper Book Awards can further inspire students and provide a platform for them to engage with literature actively and improve literacy attainment levels.
Out of interest, do you know how your pupils are performing in literacy assessments within your school?
Our Sonar Tracker platform is the pupil assessment software that lets you quickly and easily understand your assessment information, including reading attainment levels.
Or, if you’d like to find out more about our Education Resource Subscription, the Juniper Book Awards or any other service that helps cultivate a love for reading in primary schools, then get in touch with our team.