September 06, 2023

Trust schools promote a love of literature for National read a book day

This week sees the celebration of National Read a Book Day, an occasion where the importance of reading, especially for young people, is highlighted.

At the Lionheart Educational Trust, great emphasis is placed on reading from the very start of a child’s educational journey. We aim to provide all of our young people with the fundamental literary skills that allow them to forge successful careers across many walks of life.

“Children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better in school than those who don’t,” said Mrs Harris, Trust Primary Director for English.  

“They make greater progress in a wide range of subjects, including Maths because a strong reading ability helps children to absorb new information and understand concepts and questions.”

Parents and carers of primary school children are being encouraged to build reading into their child’s routine, with bedtime often the ideal time to curl up with a good book. Trust schools are also advising parents to ask their children questions about the book they are reading to stimulate further interest; “What do you think will happen next?” “Do you like this character?” “How will it end?” etc. Additionally, young children are being afforded more freedom to select the books they want to read as, that way, there is greater chance of engagement.

To highlight our commitment to this cause, and to instil a passion for reading within all students across our Trust, the English leaders have recently created The Lionheart Literary Canon.

The Canon is a list of books that students should aim to read by the end of Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4. There are four books per year group and copies of these texts were purchased for every secondary school library.

Teachers shortlisted a wide-range of engaging and thought-provoking texts that were appropriate for our students.

“We are hoping that by introducing this initiative we will be able to continue to develop a culture of reading across the Trust and promote a lifelong love of reading, beyond the curriculum,” explained Mrs Cashmore, Trust Assistant Director for English across Secondary Schools.

“We hope that by buying these books for each school and making them freely accessible that we can foster a love of reading for all of our students regardless of their backgrounds.”

In addition to The Lionheart Literary Canon, a number of other key Trust-wide initiatives have been introduced to promote the importance and enjoyment of reading.

Teachers regularly share their personal book choices through ‘I’m Reading…’ posters, which are displayed around schools. There is also a Tutor Reading Programme, which ensures all Year 11 students have read a selection of high-quality novels and the ‘Book in a Bag’ initiative which has been set up to make sure students carry a book with them at all times.

Creative opportunities are also available within our school libraries, where leads are working hard to entice students to read books listed in the Canon. They run summer reading challenges, competitions and workshops; Alexandra Sheppard, author of Oh My Gods, one of the titles on the Canon, even delivered a creative writing session!

Across the Trust, the importance of literary technology is also being stressed.

“We don’t need to fight the screen,” Mrs Harris added, “Gaming significantly increased during the lockdowns of the pandemic and it’s important that we work with children’s interests if we want to get them hooked on books!”

National Literacy Trust Director, Jonathan Douglas, reinforced this:

"Technology is playing a central role in young people's literacy development and reading choice. While we welcome the positive impact it has on bringing further reading opportunities to young people, it's crucial that reading in print is not cast aside.”

So, whether it’s an audiobook, an E-book or a good old-fashioned paper-back, this week, let’s encourage our young people to pick up a book and read. Last year, the National Literacy Trust revealed that less than half of children aged eight to 18 enjoy reading; it’s time to reverse that trend.

Why not have a look at The Lionheart Literary Canon and lose yourself in the wonderful world of literature? Travel back to important historical periods. Journey to exotic locations in far-away countries. Broaden your landscape, expand your horizons.

Check out some of the books listed on the Literary Canon below; keep an eye out for Mrs Cashmore’s suggestion, Cane Warriors by Alex Wheatle! Primary pupils might want to take a look at Mrs Harris’s recommendations; Oi Frog, by Kes Gray and the Mr Gum stories by Andy Stanton.

Oi Frog and other books in the ‘Oi …’ series are available to watch online here