The Discovery Academy

Literacy Blog


Books and Boys!

We sometimes hear parents complaining that their sons don’t want to read. Some may want to read about space, cars, dinosaurs or sharks but others…

Parents sometimes find themselves at their wits end trying to make them read but we find that by having a wide range of resources to offer them, we are more likely to find something that presses the “Reading Button”! It’s a little like having a Tool Box that is just one box but with a range of tools inside to complete many functions.

Here are some “tools” you could try:

1: Find out what makes them tick. If they are reluctant or struggling to read, make a point of finding out about their interests and hunt down reading material that will be engaging for them. It doesn’t have to be a book; comics, magazines, newspapers or blogs all help to develop reading skills.

2: Give them structure to their reading. Boys in particular respond well to structure; more than 10 minutes might be too long for some so why not try setting a timer for 3-5 minutes. Then take a minute to discuss, draw or record a summary of what they have read. Discussion is key to reading as it confirms understand of what they have read. You can add repeats of this, lengthening the time actually reading as they become more confident.

3: Progression. Find books that match your child’s reading ability so they read with success and become more confident. Once this happens, an enthusiasm for reading will develop and you can move them to more challenging books, still within their interest, whilst praising them for their progress and success.

4: Peer Pressure. Encourage them to become a Reading Champion at school. Volunteering in the library and reading with younger students will not only boost their confidence but they will be seen as one of the “cool” kids that get invited to support at Literacy events and celebrations; use peer pressure in a positive way!

5: Tempt them in. A popular way to generate interest in a particular book is to show a film trailer; something we often do for Drop Everything and Read Days! You could create a “Trailer” for a book by reading extracts of the exciting bits to draw them into wanting to read. Never read the opening; film trailers never show the opening, just the exciting parts!

6: Beware Non-Fiction Overdose! As toddlers and at primary school, all children loved being read to. Don’t assume boys only want to read non-fiction; they adore stories they can lose themselves in. Just a chapter a night leaving them excited to read the next instalment. Non-fiction may lead to lazy reading; dipping in and out of facts etc without any sustained reading.

7: Find a Purpose: For those who are not yet reading for pleasure, make their reading task-oriented. Link it to something they are studying at school and they may not even realise that they are reading! Research and read with them before leaving them to read independently about Science, History or Geography topics but explain they will have to give you a short presentation on their findings. Children love to role play – let them teach you!

8: Get Competitive: Set them a challenge! By increasing the number of books and the regularity of reading, we increase the chances of them developing good reading habits. We learn lots of behavioural habits through rewards and, whilst rewarding reading can be a contentious issue, motivation to read sets a pattern for later in life. Set a challenge to read against the clock, to read a set number of books by Christmas, over summer, per school term etc and the habit of reading will soon become a part of their daily routine. Why not reward the most important learning behaviour of all?

9: Be Active: After reading a few paragraphs, try a second read through and encourage your child to give a physical response to the text. Ask them to spot particular grammatical or literary features and give hand signals to indicate e.g. thumbs up for verbs and adverbs, a wave for adjectives, an air-punch for similes and metaphors etc. Make up your own signals that make reading fun!

10: Go Digital: Youngster today are reading even when they don’t realise it: computer game instructions, rules, comics, magazines, on-line social media posts etc. E-reading can appeal to some children and may disguise the fact that they are reading an easier text than their peers. It can spare embarrassment and fits easier into a perceived male culture, giving some boys permission to read.

There are many ways of encouraging boys to read. Try some of the “tricks” here, mix and match and you will find the right combination of “tools” with this Tool Box approach!

Happy Reading, happy boys!

Mrs Belt

Autumn 2019

The Benefits of Reading Together

Sometimes, in our very busy lives, we forget that one of the simplest, cheapest pleasures we can share with our children is reading together. There are so many long term benefits and, as World Book Day approaches, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to remind ourselves of how reading with our children at the end of the day or on a cosy, wintery evening, is a wonderful chance to explore and lose ourselves in enchantingly magical, mysterious or even Dystopian worlds together.

The Share A Story Fact Sheet from the World Book Day website shares all the benefits of reading that will support your child’s social, personal and intellectual development in addition to fighting of the challenges of growing older for us adults!

All our students have a reading book; sit down, ask them what they are reading and spend just 10 minutes reading together, making memories that will be treasured forever.

Happy Reading,

Mrs Belt

Summer, Sun and Reading!

As half term and then the summer holidays approach, it is always good to be well prepared: sunhat, sunscreen and, of course, a supply of summer reading! Along with the flip-flops, we want to ensure our family get to enjoy a range of familiar books or to maybe try some new, unusual and different genres that will challenge and inspire over the summer.

Whatever age we are, we can all relish the thought of losing ourselves in a different world as we explore new places and unfamiliar characters through the art of reading and here are some recommendations you may wish to consider:

Under Fives

The New Neighbours, by Sarah Mcintyre, features a tower block whose tenants are all animals. Pigeons, pigs, polar bears and bunnies are none too pleased to hear rats are moving in! What will happen when they finally meet their new neighbours?

Juniper, Jupiter, by Lizzy Stewart, is a picture book that finds super-hero, Juniper, searching for her perfect side-kick. This book is cull of vivid images and is absorbing for younger readers as Juniper tries to decide who is strong and courageous enough to join her.

Ages 5 to 8

Teacup House – Meet the Twitches is the first in this new series by Pippa Curnick. Stevie is moving house and her grandmother gives her the Twitch rabbit family in their teacup house to ease the upset of moving. The rabbits prove to be magical as they appear to move by themselves but Daddy Twitch gets lost in the move! A perfect book to support children moving towards independent reading.

Fancy non-fiction? Be inspired by Young, Gifted and Black: Meet 52 Black heroes form Past and Present, by Andrea Pippins. This book is a showcase of heroes from sport, music and even heads of state through to award winning authors.

Ages 8-12

David Rudden completes his Borrowed Dark trilogy with The Endless King. The young knights have travelled to Daybreak, their remote ancestral home, and find themselves dealing with a full-scale invasion. Can they be strong? Will they survive?

Riding Lessons, by Jane Smiley, is a quiet book in which nothing, yet everything, seems to happen! Desperate to ride, Ellen struggles when she learns that her parents are adopting a new baby rather buying her a horse of her own!

Young adults (12+)

Fans of James Dashner’s Maze Runner series will love The 13th Reality series. Atticus Higginbottom, a.k.a. Tick, is living a regular life until the day a strange letter arrives in his mailbox. Postmarked from Alaska and cryptically signed with the initials “M.G.,” the letter informs Tick that dangerous, perhaps even deadly, events have been set in motion that could result in the destruction of reality itself. Join Tick as he embarks on a series of adventures that cross time and space!

Big Bones, by Laura Dockrill, is a glorious celebration of life as Bluebell, sixteen and overweight, chooses to love her body as much as she loves food and cooking. When Mum agrees she can leave college early, on condition she gets fitter, the nurse insists she keeps a food diary. This novel is a tribute to family, feasting and the fears teenage girls face as over food and fitness.

Ref: Guardian Review

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