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Reading for Pleasure News – February
Welcome to our February newsletter. We hope the new school term is treating you kindly, and your RfP plans for the year ahead are well underway. We’d love to see how your school is embracing RfP in 2023, so please tag @OpenUni_RfP in any social media post to share your RfP news. We love reading them!
January saw this powerful graphic novel Bunny vs. Monkey: Multiverse mix-up by Jamie Smart named a UK bestseller! Reading for Pleasure takes many forms, and we’re thrilled to see evidence of this style of book topping charts. Congratulations to Jamie and publisher David Fickling Books.
The second podcast in our new series explores Independent Reading, with teachers Amy Greatrex (KS1), Lou Rayner (KS2) and KS3 librarian Lucas Maxwell discussing their experiences in supporting and encouraging independent reading with our very own Kelly Ashley.
This week saw the 2023 Read for Empathy book collection launched - 65 books for 3-16yr olds, giving families, schools & libraries a focused way of helping young people learn more about empathy. Judged by librarians and educators from across the UK, including Professor Teresa Cremin, check this collection out today and get your students engaged with these brilliant books.
The UKLA Children's Digital Book Award, in association with The Open University, recognises innovation, creativity and excellence in digital book publishing and is open for submissions. Deadline for entries is 28th February 2023 so don’t delay!
World Book Day is just around the corner. If you missed the Engaging Families webinar, hosted by World Book Day in partnership with the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, the National Literacy Trust and the Open University, you can watch a video of the event with the accompanying downloadable resources here. Explore these practical, effective ideas on engaging families in supporting their youngsters to find pleasure in reading.
RfP Quality Mark 2023-2024
The pilot year is now complete and we thank the four schools involved who helped co-create the process. The OU/ UKLA partnership will be launching the RfP Quality Mark at an online introductory meeting on 20th April 2-4pm. This will be advertised in our newsletters and on social media. Following applications, twenty schools will be selected and supported as they work towards a silver, gold or platinum award in 2023-2024.
SAVE THE DATE Blethering Together: Sustaining the pleasure in reading conference
Saturday June 17th is the date for this summer’s RfP conference at the OU in Milton Keynes. Our focus will be on the power of book blether and how best to foster this and socially motivate readers. We’re delighted that award winners will be joining us, including Jon Biddle! Norfolk Children’s Book Centre and UKLA bookshops will be with us, too. Tickets will be available in March - they’ll go like hot cakes- so look out for them!
This month’s Author in the Spotlight is Chris Bradford. Author of over 35 award-winning titles, he also writes dyslexia-friendly books - Gamer, Ninja and SPEAR – and the highly popular DFE-validated Little Wandle phonics series about Jake and Jen. Read more about Chris’s love of reading and his favourite books on our website.
This excellent selection of fantasy top texts for KS2 is brought to you by Dan Northover, Senior Lecturer in Primary English at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Explore Dan’s choices, along with other recommendations, on our Top Texts page.
OU Reading Schools Programme Update
Effective school development grows from the careful implementation of planned actions. English leaders engaged with our Reading Schools Programme are very busy working with their whole school community. Actions and observations are coming together and reading cultures are putting down roots with close attention to the impact on the 20% lower attaining and RfP disadvantaged readers
OU/UKLA Teacher Reading Groups
It’s been an excellent start to the year for TRGs. We kicked off the spring term with our TRG leaders' CPD event ‘Authors in the Spotlight,’ where authors Jenny Pearson and Hayley Wells joined us for a super session.
Our apologies to ace TRG leader Karen Tulloch of United Learning in Bognor for publishing an incorrect TRG update in the January newsletter. Sorry Karen, the correct version is below.
Our TRG comprises primary school teachers, a principal, TAs, English Leads, secondary school librarians, secondary school teachers, independent booksellers, Key Stage Leads - basically, a stellar group of RfP enthusiasts and advocates! We come from different corners of the country remotely via Teams. The wealth of expertise and settings is a real strength. A picture fiction focus in Session 2 enabled wonderful reflection on the potential and depth of the rich and varied texts that members shared. These will be added to our Padlet (with the books from the OU box that are being loaned out) as an ongoing resource. As always, we were joined by Tony from The Alligator’s Mouth Children’s Bookshop who generously enriched our knowledge of children’s literature with some new and very unfamiliar picture books. Looking forward to Session 3!
In our Worcester TRG, we loved looking at the A-Z of authors in the first term- which actually got quite competitive between members! Our group has been very lucky to have Sharon Lannie from the University of Worcester join us as she brings a wealth of knowledge of books. At the end of term, we all brought in our favourite picture fiction which led to a really interesting discussion. One of our group favourites was Pip and Egg, written by Alex Latimer and illustrated by David Litchfield. We are now on track as we launch into spring term, ready to start our own projects and inspired by ideas we have been exploring on the OU RfP website.
Featured Examples of Practice
To celebrate the release of our second OU Research and Practice Podcast, both of our featured examples of practice this month are focused on the RfP pedagogy of independent reading.
A highly commended Experienced Teacher entry from the Farshore 2021 RfP awards. Deb Johnson, Cathie Whiting and Sharon Ealing of Coleshill Heath School in Birmingham share how they set up 'Reading Role Models,' connecting nursery and Year 4 pupils with shared, independent reading time.
Clare McGreevy, TRG leader and upper KS2 teacher at Sandbrook Community Primary in Rochdale, shares how she developed independent reading or LARRY time by giving children ownership over who they read with, how and where. Well worth reading.
This month, Sarah Mears of EmpathyLab explores the power of empathy in childhood, and how this underpins its campaign to build empathy skills through reading. She argues empathetic children can forge better friendships, regulate their feelings, tend to be happier and more settled at school and go on to be better workmates, parents and members of society. Read Sarah’s article on the empathy-boosting power of books and reading.
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