Reading for pleasure is key for children's development and educational progress. The process in which we teach children to read should always be a careful balance between the ability to decode words through the recognition of phonemes, and the freedom to select and get lost in the magic of stories, reading with growing fluency and enjoyment.
For many children, the process of learning to read can be difficult. By exposing children to picture books and stories from a very early age is key in their development and love for reading. By having a good role model, demonstrating reading strategies, pointing out the words in a text, talking about the story and discussing opinions about books is the first step to becoming a good reader.
When children enter into the primary school classroom, it should be obvious that reading is valued in the learning environment. Having a classroom that is rich in new texts, up to date books, a quiet place to read and enjoy books is essential. Allowing children the opportunity to discover new books and make choices of their own is also a key part of their enjoyment for reading.
Classrooms that have inviting book corners and reading areas help to encourage children to develop a sense of freedom within their choice of books. More often than not, children work their way through reading schemes as the develop their reading ability. The books allocated to them during the schemes are not necessarily books that the children would select independently, and so reading gradually becomes a 'chore' or a task they 'must' do for their teacher. However, building in a sense of choice and free reading time each day, allows children to read with growing independence and enjoyment. Keeping reading displays up to day and relevant to children's every day lives are also key for grabbing their attention and keeping them asking more questions about what books they should read next. For example, 'Bookflix' displays are an excellent way to promote books that children are currently reading in class, advertise 'teacher recommendations' and display 'suggested books' that eh children may enjoy reading.
Celebrating favourite books is and exciting and fun way to develop children's reading for pleasure. Why not dress up your classroom door with the book cover that you are reading each week at school? Allow the children to become actively involved with the decoration of their classroom door.
Encourage children to bring their favourite books in from home and talk about these books with the class. Reading to your class daily, not only brings the magic of stories and texts alive, it is also a valuable time to share thoughts and opinions about books whilst the children are seeing first hand what a 'good reader' looks like. Soon they will aspire to continue to read out of choice and their love for reading will grow as they continue to be exposed to each of these aspects in their primary classroom environment. For more ideas to develop reading within your classroom environment, try our English page for resources and display ideas.