Reading at St Faith’s

Reading, and a love of reading, is at the heart of every classroom in which English is taught, which is why at St Faith’s we value and nurture it as part of the learning experience for every child.

To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark. 

Victor Hugo

Reading aloud remains a key part of appreciating literature, and children enjoy hearing a story unfold. We can trace our pleasure in stories back to the age when most were not literate. Story-telling, for example, is a pleasure found in our oldest literary forms with the scop, or Anglo-Saxon poet, telling tales of monsters, seafarers, wanderers and warriors in alliterative verse to entertain, inform and unite his listeners. In these story-verses, the rhythms and sounds added depth and meaning (texture) and this ‘feeds’ our use of modern English (Anglish).

With reading aloud, children begin to understand that the sound and rhythm of the words they select (and not just, and most obviously, with alliteration and onomatopoeia) can enhance their writing, along with the pace and overall structure. This links with work on narrative and performance poetry as well as skills such as editing. Reading aloud also enables them to hear links with other languages and provides opportunities for teachers to share the way in which languages enrich one another and draw on different cultural references. The readiness with which pupils at St Faith’s approach the integrated learning of Spanish reinforces this idea. An understanding and love of language – whichever language one chooses – is enhanced by hearing the words take shape.

There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

In Years 3 and 4 we have specific class reading times, in addition to the reading that is used as a stimulus for written work, and the class library sessions.

In allocating these two half hour slots at the heart of their school day, we want these sessions to build pupils’ interest and confidence in reading as a source of pleasure, as well as a means of accessing information. Whilst enriching their reading experience and stimulating ambition, the children also benefit from their teacher modelling;

  • The use of punctuation to guide reading
  • Using tone and pace to interpret reading
  • Developing the key skill of inferential reading
  • A confident enjoyment of reading aloud
  • An enjoyment of the shared experience of reading
  • Stimulating empathy through imagined thoughts and feelings

Books for these sessions are ideally chosen so that they embody the qualities which we want the children to aspire to in their writing. Over the year, there will be a conscious effort to balance the current fashion for fantastical plots and exclamatory, dialogue led prose, with other styles and pace of novel, so that the children begin to appreciate that variety can be exciting.

These sessions have the additional benefits of encouraging our very busy children to be physically still and reflect. Teachers are witnessing an increasing attentiveness, as children learn how to listen and allow themselves to become absorbed and captivated by an author’s imagination, as it emanates from the page.

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