Getting children reading: teachers recognised for important work in encouraging reading for pleasure
The winners of the 2019 Egmont Reading for Pleasure Teacher Awards, in association with the Open University and the UK Literacy Association (UKLA), were announced in London on Saturday 16th March at the Open University Reading for Pleasure conference.
The awards were launched in 2017 following extensive research into reading for pleasure by Egmont and the OU and UKLA over many years. Together these studies suggest teachers have limited awareness of children’s literature beyond the tried and tested classics, and lack a coherent reading for pleasure teaching strategy. However, curriculum pressures and an emphasis on testing detracts from their abilities to dedicate time and space for this which in turn this has a direct knock-on effect on children’s development as readers. The aim of the Egmont Reading for Pleasure Teacher Awards is to demonstrate the positive impact that reading for pleasure can have on all aspects of a child’s life. By recognising and celebrating teachers who are currently putting reading for pleasure at the heart of their classrooms, it is hoped the award will serve to inspire others to use similar practices in the future.
The award has been endorsed by over 20 organisations, including The Reading Agency, The Publishers Association and the School Library Association, who recognise the impact that dedicated reading time can have. The final submissions were judged by a panel of experts including Andy Stanton (bestselling children’s author), Teresa Cremin (Professor of Education Literacy, Open University), David Reedy (General Secretary, UKLA), Joy Court (Chair: CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals Review), Fiona Evans (National Literacy Trust) Cally Poplak (Managing Director, Egmont Publishing) and Alison David (Consumer Insight Director, Egmont Publishing).
“We were so impressed with the creative, innovative and entertaining ideas that were demonstrated in the submissions,” said Alison David, Consumer Insight Director at Egmont Publishing. “From our research we know how important it is that children read for pleasure. The interesting thing about reading for pleasure is that you can’t teach it! It is not a set of skills to acquire. Teaching reading is teaching literacy, it’s incredibly important, but not to be confused with helping children establish a lifelong love of reading, simply for the pure joy of it. However, reading for pleasure can be shared, modelled, and encouraged. These amazing teachers and schools, with their inspirational research-informed ideas, understand that.”
Whole School Award– Jointly awarded to Elmhurst Primary, London, and Sneinton Primary, Nottingham.
At Elmhurst developing teachers’ knowledge of RfP pedagogy and children’s literature has led to changes across the school. Increasing choice, resources and time to read have been at the heart of their research-informed approach to getting children to read more and to love reading.
The aim of Sneinton Primary has been to build an immersive reading environment. Time is set aside for reading aloud and book blether, as well emerging spontaneously across the school, not forgetting their ‘Cosy Caravan’.
Experienced Teacher Award- Sadie Phillips, Canary Wharf College, London
Sadie sought to challenge and extend experienced readers, as well as encourage those more reluctant children. Since many children share a passion for magazines, she created a Media Club and in several other activities profiled readers’ choice and agency.
Early Career Teacher Award- Marianne Mitchell, Christ Church C of E Primary, Hertfordshire
Recognising gaps in her knowledge of KS2 texts Marianne set out to develop her awareness by participating in online reading forums. She now shares favourites with children through book talk, displays, a ‘picture book world cup’ and a newsletter for children and parents
Each category winner receives an individual award, Egmont books to the value of £250 for their school and 20 copies of Help Your Child Love Reading by Alison David.
“We know that teachers are under immense pressure to deliver results, and can find it challenging to make time within the curriculum for fostering reading for pleasure. But the social, emotional and cognitive benefits of reading for pleasure is unquestionable,” said Teresa Cremin, Professor of Education at the Open University. “Our winners are clearly building reciprocal reading communities and documenting the impact of these within and beyond the classroom. We are delighted to be able to recognise this publicly through the award.”
The winning three entries, along with six highly commended entries, are available to view here.