Written by Kenneth Page – BISP Primary Principal
Reading is fundamental to success in school, and in life. When asked what advice he’d offer to a young person looking to “make a positive impact” on the world, Bill Gates replied, “The ideal thing is to read a lot”. Gates is a voracious reader, reading around 50 books a year. Another enthusiastic reader is Elon Musk. When asked how he learnt to build rockets, he answered “I read books.”
Research finds a relationship between reading ability and academic success. This strengthens when pupils are around 8 years old, as they move from ‘learning to read’ to ‘reading to learn’.
Here at BISP, we set out to help children become a Balanced Reader.
To do this, we work on three different areas:
- Decoding: using phonic knowledge and sight vocabulary to recognise words.
- Fluency and Phrasing: using punctuation and grammar to make sense. This is often made clear when a child reads aloud with appropriate phrasing and intonation.
- Comprehension: being able to discuss and answer questions about the text.
- We develop these skills through exploration of a range of text types and genres including fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose.
Of course, reading is not only of functional importance but is strongly linked to wellbeing. Research tells us that adults who read for just 20 minutes a week are 20% more likely to feel satisfied with their lives. Oprah Winfrey has been clear about the positive impact reading has had on her life: “Books were my pass to personal freedom.”
To help children develop a love of reading, we can immerse them in a culture that values and enjoys books and reading. At BISP we introduce a range of texts to children to engage and motivate children whilst also helping them to develop their reading skills. This might be through dedicated decoding (phonics) lessons as well as through techniques such as modelled, guided, shared and independent reading. We enjoy our school library and sharing class stories. Similarly, parents can help at home by modelling reading themselves, by reading to and with their children and by enjoying books together.
As Jackie Kennedy put it: “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”