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St John's C of E Primary School

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Operation Bookworm

Summer Reading Challenge


Head over to the Summer Reading Challenge website for your mission this summer - it's all about wildlife, nature and outdoor fun. Not only is there advice on how to get the most out of reading this summer, but there are also exciting activities to enjoy such as quizzes, colouring and much, much more. Get off your screens this summer and get your nose into a good book!

Operation Bookworm


Well done to all the readers at St John's. The number of children regularly reading is steadily rising and it was wonderful to hear that so many children were given books for Christmas and that they were excited to share this news with their teachers.


The challenge this half-term will be to fill a Reading Butterfly; it will be the usual 25 reads and the butterfly will be signed by adults in school. With so many children already wearing their Reading Champion badges with pride, we will be finding other rewards to motivate them. Watch this space. Last term all the Key Stage 2 classes earned their book film party by completing 1000 reads over the term. It would be wonderful if the Key Stage 1 classes hit that target this term.


Just to remind you of the survey results from last year:


The biggest barriers to them opening a book were:


  • Sibling noise and distraction
  • Not having interesting books to read
  • Wanting to play on tablets and games consoles
  • Parents not having time to hear them


Needless to say, this does not apply to every household but these are common problems that the children have identified themselves and we need to help them overcome these barriers.


Before I suggest some small changes that you can make at home, let me tell about some strategies that are currently in place at school to support your child’s progress in reading:


  • A large stock of brand new reading books for Key Stage 1 has been supplied
  • A new Reading Racetrack Class Competition to encourage a class ethos towards increasing the amount of reading at home
  • A new weekly reading-focused assembly to motivate our young readers, inform them about authors, new and old, and to celebrate what is great about books
  • Collaboration with local charity shops who will donate any leftover children’s books to us to fill our shelves at school and to be sent home
  • Operation Bookworm reward badges for children who read 25 times at home
  • Every day at St John’s now begins with reading and there is a reading session straight after lunch. The emphasis this year is on teachers sharing a mixture of classic and new authors in order to increased their pupils’ enjoyment of reading, develop their vocabulary and widen their range of favourite authors
  • Visits by local authors – poet Joseph Siegal will be visiting in November and others are to come later in the year
  • Staff permitting, children who are falling behind are heard to read daily at school; some will take part in intervention programmes
  • Vocabulary Day
  • Donations of children’s books by Oxfam and St Margaret’s Hospice


But what are the consequences of not hearing a child read regularly at home? Well, take a look:


  • Reading to children at a young age helps the brain develop. Not reading to your child causes the brain to develop less and can lead them to have smaller brains and to struggle in all areas of learning. (1)
  • Children who aren’t read to have lower language comprehension, smaller vocabularies, and lower cognitive skills than their peers. (1)
  • Without the nurturing and one-on-one attention from parents during reading aloud children DON’T form a positive association with books and reading later in life. (1)
  • Where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean average reading score is 44 points below the national average. (1)
  • The parent-child-book moment even has the potential to help curb problem behaviours like aggression, hyperactivity and difficulty with attention. (2)
  • Not learning to read properly as a child can seriously affect your future: a study in 2017 found that half the UK prison population was functionally illiterate – in other words they could not find decent jobs and earn an income because they had an average reading age of below 11 years of age. (3)


And for those of you who like bar charts:



Helping with those barriers to reading:


  1. Too much noise and distraction.


Routine is everything. If a quiet routine after school is established with the school-age children, the younger children will start to see this as normal. No TV in the background, just a quiet environment in which to read and think. Have a routine that cannot be challenged, eg. change out of school clothes, squash and a biscuit, 20 minutes reading together.


  1. Not having interesting books to read.


The school reading scheme books can be a bit dull at times but they are necessary to target certain sounds and vocabulary. So, it makes sense to read the school book when they get home and perhaps a fun book to share when they go to bed. Books can be borrowed from the library and, if our arrangement with the charity shops works out well, we will be able to send fun books home for the children to read too. Don’t forget that magazines are reading too and comic books are a great way to motivate young children.


  1. Competing with tablets and games consoles.


Computers are great in many ways and could be used as a reward after the reading is done. The best advice is, however, to limit any child’s use of these devices. Not only can some games be incredibly addictive, but they can cause children stress and stop them from communicating with others. This, in turn, prevents the development of vocabulary and social skills.


  1. Parents lacking time to hear their children read


As a working single parent, I know what it feels like to be rushed for time but I do know that sharing a book with a child on a daily basis brings benefits beyond learning to read. My best advice again, is a routine time, no excuses allowed. Give it time and you will find that the closeness, calm and curiosity that comes out of dedicated reading time will bring you, personally, rewards as well as progress in your child’s reading.


Other tips:


  • Older children can read on their own with you helping younger children, just check in with them that they are understanding the book and show that you are checking their progress.
  • Instead of allowing tablets, TVs etc before they go to bed, encourage the reading of a fun book together or independently. Lights from electric gadgets can disturb sleep and books are great for chilling out before bedtime.
  • Pick up a book yourself and show them how to take time away from the mobile phone, noise and technology in order to feed the mind and imagination.
  • If reading is difficult for you or someone you know, please come and have a chat with me about courses that are available in the local area. Even if reading is a struggle, you can still provide valuable support by encouraging your child and providing a calm environment to concentrate in.


Many of you may have favourite books you have been reading with your children, or even ones you remember reading when you were young. If so, why not have a chat with your child’s class teacher about coming in to share a story. You would be made to feel most welcome.


We all want the best for the children at St John’s so let’s join together to make a difference to all of their futures as readers and as fulfilled members of our community.


Many thanks and……. Keep reading!


Tessa Clarke

English Subject Lead

Otter Class Teacher – Year 3




1. De Bellis, M.D., Keshaven, M.S., Clark,D.B., Caseey, B.J., Giedd, J.B., Boring,A.M., Frustaci, K., & Ryan, N.D. (1999).Developmental traumatology.Part 2: Brain development. BiologicalPsychiatry, 45, 1271-1284

2. By Perri Klass, M.D. April 16, 2018 New York Times website

3.. Shannon Trust London – Guardian website

How you can help at home