Submitting our Entry for the Reading Challenge

At the beginning of the school year, it was my intention and mission to develop a Reading Culture within Our Lady’s Primary School which would be sustainable for many years to c ​ome. In order to do this, I had to have a plan which was clear enough to begin the journey but flexible enough to be adapted and added to as we continued through the year. Alongside my Head Teacher, class teachers, support staff, children and parents, we have raised the profile of reading in our school and now enjoy many more opportunities to engage in reading sessions in order to develop reading for enjoyment, learning, life and work.

In order to gather evidence to highlight the positive impact our journey has had on the children, I have been thinking of a variety of ways I can do this. One way of gauging their interest levels and finding out whether this has been a successful year was to ask them. So I did! I was working with P5 for a few lessons and they had been concentrating on functional writing, so I asked them to write me a letter explaining what they had enjoyed (or not!) about the last few months and what their feelings were now, with regards to reading and reading activities. I was so pleased with their responses. Children who previously did not see themselves as readers are now beginning to understand and experience the pleasure a book can bring. 

To accompany my first blog entry, I posted a photograph of a prepared but empty wall which would be used to track Our Lady’s Reading Journey from August to the end of this session. If you look at the wall now, you can see and appreciate just how busy the children and staff of our school have been. On the wall, I have included a few quotes from the children which I got when I gathered a group together to discuss what changes had taken place and the impact of these changes on our attitudes towards reading. They are very positive and show how simple it is to completely change the way people view reading for enjoyment and purpose. I will use photos of this changing display to accompany my account of the things we have done this year to enter the School Reading Journey challenge.

Throughout this session, we have worked hard to strengthen our relationship with our local library. Our children attend the library every 3 or 4 weeks and, when there, they browse the shelves as they have been taught to and choose a book which they feel suits them. Some of the children have stated that this journey has allowed them to work out which kind of reading material suits them: fantasy, adventure, graphic novels, crime-based stories, non-fiction books, poetry, plays etc. In this way, they are becoming more familiar with particular authors. In order to sustain this interest, I will be looking to apply for Inspiring Classrooms funding for an author visit next year and the Live Literature Programme as I have no doubt the children would benefit greatly from being a part of this.

Whilst at the library, our younger children are read stories by the librarians who are always on hand to enrich the experiences the children have when visiting.

I was thinking about how best to document the pupils’ reading journey, which would be more than just a written piece. Therefore, using an iPad, I filmed the children discussing their reading journey with others. This was done in class during a listening and talking group exercise, when all children were encouraged to share their thoughts and feelings. I also filmed some children direct to camera, when they were able to discuss the impact that reading more regularly has had on their personal and educational achievements. I have spoken with some of teachers and we hope to be able to film a trailer or act out a story which the children have read. This would be completed during a literacy lesson (or three) so fingers crossed this one can be achieved in time for the entry deadline!

The count is on in each class to find out the total number of books read throughout the challenge. We have one class at each stage, P4-P7, and all children have been completing their passports since September. The total number of books read will be high!

Submitting an entry for the Reading Challenge can often seem like a big job which we just don’t have time for, with an already bulging timetable. However, I think it is important to realise that there isn’t a huge amount of extra work involved in submitting an entry. Most of the evidence can be gathered as part of your normal classwork – letters in Literacy, film clips during ICT. Also, as the children are already fully invested in their reading journey, they will be only too happy to tell everyone about it!

As we approach the deadline date for entries, it is important that we remember that this is not the end of the reading journey. It has been an amazing year for our children and I cannot wait to see what comes next! Happy Reading!