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Reading for Pleasure

5th March 2021

Second post this week, this being ”World Book Day” week I just couldn’t resist. It’s also March and I can see signs that spring is on its way which definitely gives me pleasure.

I have written previous posts on the topic of reading so at the risk of repeating myself I will provide you with the links, so please feel free to have a read:

In 2014 the National Curriculum for English emphasised the importance of reading for pleasure. Stating only 25.8% of children said they read daily in their free time. Sharing your love of stories with children from a very young age is important and enjoyable whether you are a parent, grandparent or sibling. The long debated ‘reading wars’ still go on, systematic phonics teaching or whole word, cue based learning?

Some dyslexic children, often referred to as Stealth/resilient dyslexics, have worked out ways to compensate for any decoding issues. Such as using certain ‘cues’ from the book i.e. using ‘guess’ work to work out an unfamiliar word by pictures, context and initial letters etc. This is one of the arguments concerning ‘whole word teaching’, children are being taught ‘strategies’ that dyslexics use to compensate to actually teach them to read.

Have a look at Emily Hanford 2019 APM report:

Scientific research versus observational traditional methods! The above is an American article about American Schools.

Another previous post:

In the Uk the government backs the use of ‘synthetic systematic phonics’. However there are differences between schools with the use of different programmes and different views on the teaching of irregular/high frequency words. The danger of teaching to pass a ‘phonics test’ maybe too much use of repetition/drill and less on the enjoyment/ pleasure of a good story and comprehension.

The debates are bound to go on! Let’s just hope its not at the detriment of our children. That the scientists/educators/governments etc do not forget that everyone is different and one way does not fit all.

Within by Wednesday post I championed the use of Audiobooks. I imagine that there maybe some who feel audiobooks are a type of ‘strategy’ dyslexics may use to avoid the necessity to learn to read? They are obviously entitled to their view. I personally am of the opinion that speech and listening skills are also important to develop. Learning to read the complexities of the English Language is paramount and phonics teaching is a necessity. However, if a child has the pleasure in stories grown from having stories read to them to listening to audiobooks with no pressure they maybe more likely to take on the challenge of a phoneme or spelling rule?

This week you may have heard about the campaign to ‘turn on the subtitles’:

Learning to read whilst doing something that interest you? What a good idea, if it works for you then go for it!

I watched a podcast this week on You Tube, an interview (July 2020)between ‘The Reading League’ and David Kilpatrick (previous School Psychologist/reading researcher/psychology professor/author).

David Kilpatrick considers phonic intervention to be imperative, you also need a process called ‘Orthographic Mapping’. This could have a blog post all by itself when you start looking into it!

Orthographic Mapping is the process in remembering words for later retrieval. Phonological awareness skills are important to develop so that you are able to ‘pull words apart orally’. Kilpatrick says it’s important to pay attention to each detail of a written word and map the words pronunciation along with its meaning.

Kilpatrick explains that once we ‘know’ the words in our long term memory we then automatically retrieve them without the need to decode so that we can concentrate on the comprehension of the text. He is of the opinion, within his writing (2015), that:

“Typically developing readers of 2nd grade (7 to 8 years) who have orthographic mapping skills, they only need to see and read printed words one to four times before they become permanently stored as sight words (automatically known words).”

Dyslexics can obviously have difficulty with phonological awareness, phoneme to grapheme correspondence and memory! Kilpatrick says students with word reading difficulties do not automatically develop orthographic mapping abilities. They have greater difficulty in developing an automatically known word bank store which is needed for fluent reading.

Kilpatrick obviously then supports the necessity for interventions to explicitly develop advanced phonological awareness, phoneme knowledge, and memory.

Orthographic Mapping can be seen as connecting something new to something the individual already knows.

Through listening and speaking, from talking and sharing stories with your child early you start to develop articulation and meaning of words which hopefully will be stored in their long term memory. Then when they encounter the articulation and the written symbols they can connect them to the previously learnt information.

One suggestion Kilpatrick makes is that when you read silently and come across a new word you orally decode the parts of the word, say the word out loud, work out the meaning in the dictionary or by discussing with a peer/adult.

Dyslexics have been known to improve when meaning is attached to what they are trying to learn rather that learning by rote. Meaning is important!

Therefore I would say whether it’s a paper book, audiobook, or tv with subtitles then encourage your child to be curious and when they encounter a new word don’t be scared, be a ‘word detective‘. Ask questions; what does that word mean, how do you say it, why are that string of letters used but pronounced differently etc?

RobinStyle photos

Its always good to talk, listen and (it now seems) to watch tv! It’s all part of the reading process. Let’s hope we can increase that percentage of children who read on a daily basis for pleasure.

I will be back, same place, next Friday. Now I am off to watch television with the subtitles on!


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