Libraries & Reading at Gateways

The Critical Importance of Reading 

Mrs Sharrock is our chartered librarian and has over 35 years’ experience of encouraging the reading habit.

“Evidence suggests that there is a positive relationship between reading frequency, reading enjoyment and attainment (Clark 2011; Clark and Douglas 2011).”

(From: Department for Education (2012). Research evidence on reading for pleasure.)

Research over the last two decades has repeatedly shown the value of reading and particularly of reading for pleasure. At Gateways, we continually strive to emphasise these benefits and to inculcate an attitude that reading is critical for educational and emotional development, for expanding our awareness of the world around us, and perhaps, most importantly, that it is an enjoyable and entertaining activity that should lead to a life-long engagement with all aspects of the printed word.

I have found that the most effective approach to inspiring children and young people is to ensure that they are supported by all the adults around them. Staff throughout the school and across departments will recommend and promote reading for a whole range of reasons. It is equally important that parents, grandparents and other family members can do their bit too and join in with this passion for reading and developing the habit for life.

Below, you will find information and tips, links to resources and websites, and reviews that will help you to support your child to gain confidence in their reading and to develop a whole-family ethos of enjoying the printed word in a range of formats.

Why we all love reading

Here are just a few of the benefits of developing the reading habit for life:

  • Improves spelling, vocabulary, grammar, text comprehension and writing styles
  • Develops empathy and understanding of others and the world around them
  • Increases understanding of self and one’s own identity
  • Enhances imagination and the ability to predict potential outcomes
  • Challenges current ways of thinking and expands awareness
  • Improves the ability to analyse information and detect potential inaccuracies and bias
  • Increases the ability to focus on tasks for longer periods
  • Fosters relaxation and mindfulness, and aids sleeping
  • Improves levels of calmness, confidence and self-esteem
  • Helps to develop decision-making strategies

Particular benefits for younger children

Even if your child cannot read yet, there are still significant benefits to reading to your child, and that includes very young babies!

  • Aids language and communication development
  • Enhances visual and oral stimulation and cognition
  • Fosters an appreciation of story and develops the imagination
  • Builds an association with stories and reading as a fun and exciting activity
  • Develops physical closeness and bonding
  • Builds an association of individual attention from an adult
  • Promotes calm and focussed behaviour and aids sleeping

Tips for encouraging reading

We all acknowledge that in a world full of other available activities and a range of technologies, it can be difficult to maintain the reading habit with your children, especially as they become young adults.

Try these tips for supporting and encouraging their reading:

  • Carry on reading to and with your child, even when they can read for themselves
  • Read yourself – model good reading behaviour and discuss what you are reading
  • Make reading a routine part of the day for the whole family
  • Consider all types of reading and all formats – it’s not all about Fiction!
  • Try:
    • Non-Fiction – especially relating to hobbies, interests, favourite celebrities
    • Newspapers & magazines (those aimed at children are especially useful, such as First News and The Week Junior as an introduction, as well as online versions
    • News and current affairs websites
    • Online blogs
    • Audiobooks, including online audio versions and YouTube stories
  • Join your local public library to extend the range of reading sources and to try out the reading activities – it’s free and available from birth!
  • Have lots of reading material around the house – don’t forget newspapers, magazines, cookery books, comics, joke books, poetry books
  • Encourage your child to use the libraries at school – the High School Library is available before and after school and at break times
  • Visit bookshops – most will be happy to help with selections
  • Remember that books make great presents for birthdays, Christmas and other celebrations
  • Look for film, TV and online tie-ins as a motivation for reading
  • Avoid forcing a particular book on to your child – there are thousands to choose from and they can simply try another one

Children with SEN

Some children may not access reading as easily as others and may not benefit from all of the suggestions already listed to encourage reading for pleasure.

These are recommendations and suggestions for supporting children with SEN:

  • Encourage them to enjoy and appreciate stories in other formats, as they will still be able to develop their vocabulary, understanding, empathy, awareness, prediction skills, and so on. This could be watching films, listening to audio stories, watching story clips on YouTube, visiting libraries for Story Time
  • Make use of publishers who specialise in producing Fiction and Non-Fiction for children with SEN. For example, Barrington Stoke books are printed on off-white paper, use dyslexia-friendly fonts, contain shorter sentences, paragraphs and chapters, use experienced mainstream children’s and young people’s authors, and rely on children with SEN to continually evaluate their titles and aid the company’s development.
  • Continue to read with and to your child for as long as feels comfortable for you both. Older children can then continue with audio books, online downloads and YouTube stories, and film versions
  • Make use of story, information and news apps, along with apps that encourage the writing of stories, such as, Book Creator
  • Try Non-Fiction and information books, newspapers and magazines as these allow your child to read shorter chunks of text at one time. Remember to talk about what they might have found interesting, challenging or unexpected.

The Rights of the Reader

In 2006 writer Daniel Pennac published a short book about why we read and why we don’t read. He prompts us to remember that there are no “rules” in reading for pleasure and that if we are to develop the reading habit we must not put undue pressure on to our children, otherwise reading will not be seen as an enjoyable experience.


Book Reviewing Journals & Websites

I use a range of reviewing journals when I am selecting books for the libraries in school. These are trusted and authoritative sources where the needs of the young reader are the focus and chief priority, and not the number of sales of particular titles. Supermarkets can be great places to buy a book, especially when you are busy, but do be aware that you will only see a very small range of the thousands of books published every year for children and young people, and often a very limited range of popular authors. These resources will help to broaden your knowledge of all that is available, and the current and popular trends within this field.

  • Books for Keeps

Easy to read, comprehensive and independent, it has been informing those who work with children and their families for over 38 years. Reviewers include children’s librarians, classroom teachers and expert critics from education and the literary world.

  • The Book Trust

The largest children’s reading charity in the UK, producing resources to support the development of and love of reading. Offers booklists by age groups and themes, as well as the latest news on reading activities and book awards.

  • Love Reading 4 Kids

A colourful and lively site, allowing publishers to connect directly with book lovers and help young readers to discover new books and authors. Includes book reviews, opening extracts and recommendations.

  • The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE)

A charity for those involved in teaching literacy in Primary schools. The booklists within the Library section are particularly comprehensive and thought-provoking.

Book Awards

Following the wide range of book awards both within this country and around the world will further expand awareness and knowledge of some of the best and most innovative Fiction and Non-Fiction currently available for both children and adults.

  • CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children’s Book Awards

Chosen by librarians working with children and young people. The Carnegie Award covers novels for children and young adults, the Greenaway Medal for the best picture books. Also includes the Amnesty CILIP Honour award which aims to celebrate our freedoms through outstanding children’s books and raise awareness of human rights.

  • Waterstones Children’s Book Prize

Chosen by experienced and expert booksellers.

  • Blue Peter Book Awards

Nominated by publishers, with the shortlist judged by children

  • School Library Association Information Book Award

Includes categories for ages 7 and under, 7-12 and 12-16.

These websites will give you a full list of the range of awards for both children’s and adult Fiction, Non-Fiction and Information books.

Recommended Author Lists

I have created three ‘Recommended Author’ lists for different age groups with a list of different authors that would be perfect for pupils that age.

Author list for U3 & L4

Author list for U4

Author list for L5, U5 & Sixth Form