A Message from the Head of Junior Years

8 September 2017

This week in the Junior Years we saw the culmination of our annual Bookweek celebrations with a wonderful parade of colourful characters from the children’s favourite books, a carefully crafted dramatisation entwining characters and stories from this year’s shortlisted books, and last week, an evening of bedtime storytelling with Mrs Cohen, Mrs Suhr and Mrs Miegel.

These events assist us to focus on the importance of books and reading and the enjoyment that can be gained from these stories. I still remember vividly my own childhood and having bedtime stories read to me and how I looked forward to this most evenings. My father also used to make up stories which were told with such descriptive language that I can still recall some with fondness over fifty years later.

The Scholastic (2015). ‘Kids & Family Reading Report: 5th Edition.’ New York: NY looked at reading at home. It also has tips for us in the classroom, too.

According to the report, ‘more than half of children aged 0-5 (54%) are read aloud to at home five to seven days a week. This declines to only one in three children ages 6-8 (34%) and one in six children ages 9–11 (17%). When it comes to being read aloud to at home … [83 per cent of children across the age groups] say they love/d or like/d it a lot.’

The report found that over 90% of parents started reading to their children before the age of six. Of those, 80% said they did it because they wanted their child to enjoy books.

Twenty-three per cent of parents said they stopped reading books aloud to their children before the age of nine, the reasons being: ‘My child was old enough to read on his/her own’ (75%); ‘My child wanted to read independently’ (58%); and ‘I wanted to promote independent reading’ (49%).

According to discussions with most children, they don’t want their parents to stop reading to them altogether, even if they are independent readers. This, they see as a special time just to be with mum or dad (78%). Most also said that reading together is fun and that they can read books that perhaps are too difficult to read alone. Nearly 35% also said they loved to hear different voices and also talk about the story being read.

So, even though you may feel exhausted at night the more you read with them, the more they will read alone and the better readers they will become over time, which will have a positive impact on their overall success in school.

Some interesting reading statistics on four different children:

  • Jane reads for 1 minute a day- that’s 180 minutes per school year and 8000 words approximately.
  • Caitlin reads for 5 minutes a day - that’s 900 minutes per school year and 282 000 words approximately.
  • Sue reads for 10 minutes a day - that’s 1800 minutes per school year and 564 000 words approximately
  • Simone reads for 20 minutes a day- that’s 3600 minutes per school year and 1 800 000 words approximately.

If this starts in Kindergarten and goes on to Year Six:

  • Jane will have read for  the equivalent of 3 school days
  • Caitlin will have read for the equivalent of 12 School days
  • Sue will have read for the equivalent of 24 school days
  • Simone will have read for the equivalent of 60 school days- two extra months!!

Source: William Nagy and Patricia Herman 1987 University of Illinois  ‘Why read 20 minutes at home?’

Happy reading! It’s worth it!!

Mr Steve Warren
Head of Junior Years

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