Inspiring a love of reading: Professional learning to develop a culture of reading for pleasure

Cremin, Teresa and Durning, Aimee (2019). Inspiring a love of reading: Professional learning to develop a culture of reading for pleasure. In: Green, Michael and Rolls, Luke eds. Unlocking Research: intellectualising professional development in primary school. Routledge, (In Press).

Abstract

Whether children read for pleasure - that is choose to read – within and beyond school matters. Not only because ‘the will influences the skill’ as research repeatedly reveals, but because reading for pleasure, for exploration, relaxation, imagination and making connections, is a worthwhile activity in its own right. It is mandated in England, Ireland, is expected to be required in the new Welsh curriculum and is central to the First Minster’s Reading Challenge in Scotland.

Teachers and schools across the UK are working to enhance children’s desire to read, and most schools participate in a myriad of book activities, including Book Week, World Book Day, author events, and literacy parents’ evenings. Many have also refurbished/reclaimed their libraries; purchasing reading sheds and double decker buses and adding cushions and sofas to enrich classroom reading corners. Such activities and spaces demonstrate to families, governors, inspectors and the children that the school values reading. But is this institutional positioning of Reading for Pleasure (RfP) enough?

To avoid being sucked into ‘performing RfP’, some schools and teachers draw on research to underpin their pedagogic practice; they move away from ‘doing’ reading activities and instead they engage in serious Continuing Professional Development and Learning (CPDL, Cordingley, 2015). They review their professional knowledge and understanding about what counts as RfP and develop research-informed, sustained and embedded practice- creating a RfP ethos that runs through the school. Some schools also document the difference their new practices make to children’s identities as readers and their desire to read.

This chapter demonstrates the value of schools embarking on such research-informed reading for pleasure journeys, and the salience of staff exploring research and practice in collaboration with one another and evidence-based resources. Initially we explore the benefits of RfP, and the challenges and tensions involved, then we turn to relevant research and ways to mediate this through professional development. We focus on a CPDL course run in one school for local teachers as an example of the road travelled, highlight the new research-informed understandings developed, the pedagogic and community consequences, and the impact on children’s (and teachers’) identities as readers. We also offer ways to get involved.

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