Encouraging students to read inside and outside of the classroom

How can we help students develop literacy and  reading skills for the 21st century? One example is the Amazing Readers project ran by Pearson in Italy in collaboration with the British Embassy.

While middle and high school students may have mastered the basic tools of reading, they still need help ‘learning to read’ the increasingly complex and diverse texts of the digital age. *

What  can we do to encourage our students to read more? How can we help our students develop literacy and  reading skills to consume 21st century texts and modern communication?’ These are the big questions we need to consider to help our students succeed in today’s school environment.

Research points in one direction: reading for pleasure!

"Reading for enjoyment every day is associated with better performance in PISA" (OECD 2011)*. The Amazing Readers project in Italy offers  a simple solution with practical ideas and teacher support  to get students to enjoy reading by cultivating a reading habit, and starting them on the journey of becoming a lifelong reader.

Amazing Readers is an Inclusive Reading project for all ages organized by Pearson Italia with the patronage of the British Embassy in Rome. Its aim is to encourage participants through intensive and extensive reading to read books at the right level in English for pleasure and help enhance their literacy levels and reading fluency as well as their confidence in speaking and writing in English. 

At the heart of any successful reading programme is a varied range of books that are enjoyable and at the right level. Amazing Readers is based around the  Pearson English Kids Readers, Pearson English Readers and Pearson Active Readers which offer a large selection of different titles and genres ranging from Fiction and Non Fiction, CLIL, Classics, Cinematic Readers, Story Readers, to adaptations of the stories from Marvel and Disney. The language of these readers is carefully graded so students improve their language skills while inspiring their love of reading. The readers are supported by audio and recordings of the texts  so students can improve their listening skills and pronunciation while reading too. 

“ Pearson English Kids readers are attractive readers that primary students find intrinsically familiar to their own world and so therefore are motivated to read”
Vanessa Hartson Kids Can School Rome

How does the project work?
Teachers introduce the idea of Amazing Readers to their students and parents and present the idea of the end of year Discovery Day where all students, even the most reluctant readers, participate and celebrate their reading by exhibiting responses they have made about their favourite book.
 
Students record their reading on a reading log. Throughout the year the teachers encourage students to keep reading more books by using pre-, during and post- reading activities in class. The teachers are offered teacher training support and new ideas to keep students interested in reading. Towards the end of the school year, students begin preparing for the Discovery Day at their school where students exhibit or present their responses to reading. They select their favourite book and respond to it in the form of a project of their choice, e.g. a presentation, a poster, a digital response, a lap book or a video. They can act a short scene from the book, draw a new cover, write a different ending or dress up as one of the characters.

Templates for book reviews, Lap Books and ideas for making videos can all be found on the Amazing Readers website. This makes the project totally inclusive: everyone responds to their favourite book in a way that they feel most comfortable with. The extroverts may want to ‘perform’ their story; the introverts would prefer to draw or write. The dyslexic student may also prefer to do something which doesn’t involve writing. Some students may feel safer if they can join a small group of classmates who have all read the same book, each bringing their expertise to the project they choose.

Who comes to the Discovery Day?
Teachers invite parents, families, local VIPs and other classes. Certificates for students participating at the events are available to download from the Amazing Reader’s website . 

How can I get my students excited about reading with Amazing Readers?
For more information join us on Facebook Amazing Readers Pearson - or download the materials to use on the  project on the Amazing Readers website (it's in Italian, but don't let that stop you!)

13.12.2016 Learning to Read to Learn: Three ways to enhance adolescent reading comprehension in a digital world
Leah Shafer Harvard Graduate

PISA – Programme for International Student Assessment is a world wide study by the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) in member and non member nations of 15 year old school pupil’s scholastic performance, or mathematics and reading.

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About the author
Donatella Fitzgerald is  co-author of Headway Culture, English File Culture Links and True Heroes of Sport OUP. Her research areas are Assessment, CLIL, Extensive Reading and Special Educational Needs. She is ELT Sales manager at Pearson in Italy and she works closely with teachers and students in Italy every day.