FK&Y has been working closely with St Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Stoke-on-Trent for the past 6 months (September 2018 to February 2019) to explore the impact of reading aloud to children in-school for Egmont’s ‘Stories and Choices’ intervention. Evidence shows that being read to aloud can prompt a greater love of reading and improve children’s emotional wellbeing, but that after the age of eight children are less likely to be read to by parents and teachers. To facilitate learning and a love of reading, Egmont provided St Joseph’s with a generous selection of books for teachers to read to their Key Stage 2 classes (7-11 year old’s) for 20 minutes each day. Egmont also provided magazines for children to take home each week.
The FK&Y team carried out workshops in the school with all Key Stage 2 children and separate teacher focus groups in 3 stages – before, half way through, and after the intervention, as well as in-home interviews with eight children and their parents pre and post-intervention. The purpose was to explore in-depth attitudes towards reading, books and magazines and the way in which this changed throughout the intervention. Results were presented in London yesterday by Egmont’s Alison David at the publisher’s excellent 2019 Annual Insight Presentation with over 200 delegates attending.
The results of the intervention were very positive, with teachers seeing a marked improvement in children’s enthusiasm for reading, and reading ages increasing by 10 months on average – twice what would be expected. Laura Hamilton, Headteacher at St Joseph remarked, “it is no secret that the primary curriculum is jam-packed and some days it was a struggle to fit in story time, but the benefits were clearly evident”. As a result of the research, Egmont is calling on the government to make space for reading on the school curriculum and is urging daily story time to be an intrinsic part of the school day right up until teens – see #Don’tStopAtEight@EgmontUK. Giving teachers the time to read to children aloud, without any accompanying work or exercises, is the key to encouraging a love of reading for pleasure and the benefits to children’s wellbeing that come from this. For details of the research see here.
We would like to thank the staff and children at St Joseph’s for their commitment to the task and for allowing our research team to take time out of the school’s busy days to take part in the research.