//Reading for pleasure – measuring the impact

Reading for pleasure – measuring the impact

Okay, it’s the end of the school year and time to put my money where my mouth is… A year ago, we started taking reading for pleasure seriously – we built a new library, overhauled the number and quality of books across the school and launched a range of initiatives to get children and staff enjoying reading more – and now I’ve got to account for it in order to continue the work next year and build on the work we’ve done so far. So, the findings:


Looking at the progress data for the same cohort of children over the same time period two years running, we found:

  • an increase in average progress in reading comprehension of 84% in Year 4. This was the year most involved with re-establishing guided reading, use of the library and recommendations culture.
  • one Year 4 class saw over 100% increase in average progress over a year (though it’s worth noting this teacher was already fully bought-in to the idea of reading for pleasure).
  • in Year 5, the rate of progress increased year on year by 54%.

And the stat everyone seems more interested in…

  • At the end of Key Stage 2 this year, Level 4s and above in reading were up year on year from 74% to 92%.

Attitudes to reading

100 children in Year 4 were surveyed a year ago, and the same children surveyed again earlier this week and we found:

  • the number of children who do not like reading fell from approximately 40% to 10%.
  • at the other end of the scale, children who reported enjoying reading very much rose from 25% to 50%.
  • similar findings for the amount children read outside school, with a dramatic increase in the number of children reporting they read several times a week or daily.

We asked the children what accounted for any differences in their attitude to reading: the majority quoted the library and a wider selection of quality books as major reasons for their improved experience of reading. Some children mentioned reading was discussed more in school, that they had received recommendations from other children and teachers, some commented on improved support from teachers and a few mentioned the reading garden as inspiring them.


  • Last year, Key Stage 2 children borrowed 2000 books, this year the figures is already 6000.
  • Borrowing was up by over 100% in the Key Stage 1 library (2700 books).
  • There was a noticeable increase in boys’ borrowing – over half the top borrowers in the Key Stage 2 library are now boys (this is also reflected in the top authors borrowed, which include Tom Palmer, Terry Deary, Andy Stanton and Anthony Horowitz).

It is worth noting, some of the children who considered themselves the most reluctant readers in school, are now the most active in borrowing

Anecdotal evidence

  • Children’s comments are important in building up a picture of attitudes to reading as are staff comments.
  • Comments from the majority of staff on increased booktalk, and noticeable increase in staff booktalk. One member of staff, a confirmed non-reader, has had the most profound about-turn: she approached me a couple of weeks ago to insist we do more of the same next year and that she has never seen children so engaged. This is the stat that means the most to me, the evidence at least one teacher has begun to see the possibilities of changing children’s lives through reading for pleasure.

Of course, the evidence above doesn’t prove an awful lot – there’s no direct link to be made between the things we did (rebuilding the school library, employing a full time librarian, making storytime sacrosanct, building a reading garden, increasing curriculum time for reading activities, holding regular recommendation sessions and bedtime reading events and getting more authors in to talk to the children etc etc) and the impact on results, but it all seems to build up a picture of what a focus on reading for pleasure can really do. However, we’ve Children’s commentslearned a lot and it’s been a buzz trying to get both teachers and children to read and talk about reading with passion.

Currently reading: The lady with the little dog, by Chekhov

Currently listening to: The planes, which seem excessively loud to me this evening

By |2012-07-10T10:09:03+00:00July 10th, 2012|Reading|7 Comments

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  1. Koren 10th July 2012 at 10:32 am - Reply

    Great to hear about this positive pro active approach you have taken to promoting reading for pleasure in your school. Thank you for sharing and all the best with continued success.

  2. Philippa 10th July 2012 at 10:53 am - Reply

    This is so impressive and inspiring. Great to see a school demonstrating how important reading for pleasure is and how much a clear focus can impact! Well done to everyone at the school. Can’t wait to hear about you do next!

  3. Cathy Foster (@call_me_cathy) 10th July 2012 at 11:23 am - Reply

    “It is worth noting, some of the children who considered themselves the most reluctant readers in school, are now the most active in borrowing”
    I love when this kind of thing happens, its what us children’s librarians live for, isn’t it?! Did you see this research – a few years old now, thought it might be interesting for you – http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/research/nlt_research/268_young_peoples_self-perceptions_as_readers

  4. wylmenmuir 10th July 2012 at 11:31 am - Reply

    Funnily enough, I modelled my attitudinal study on the NLT’s one:) The guys at NLT were really helpful when I was thinking about getting all of this set up a year or so ago. I’ve got tons and tons of data to sift through now – much more than I’ve had time to look at, but this was one of the most exciting bits for me, to see the huge change in some children, from confirmed non readers, to passionate advocates.

  5. Cathy Foster (@call_me_cathy) 10th July 2012 at 11:33 am - Reply

    That’s so cool – I used it too for a project I ran with lottery funding (although I didn’t think to contact the NLT, I don’t know why, seems a bit crazy looking back I should have at least emailed them!!

  6. storyseekersuk 10th July 2012 at 8:59 pm - Reply

    This is such an inspiring post!
    Although, as you say, the results may not form scientific proof at the moment, I think it’s reasonable to assume that all the amazing things you’ve done have contributed a great deal to the improved results and more importantly, the attitudes of the children.
    I was a primary school teacher (at home with two small children at the moment) and would have loved to have been involved with something like this at my old school, hence me considering a slight change in career when I return to work. I am very envious of the teachers in your school who have been a part of this drive to promote the idea of reading for pleasure!
    Can I ask what (if any) impact all these wonderful changes had on Foundation Stage? I appreciate things will have been done differently with younger children, but I’m just curious as to how they responded as this is closer to the age group I’d like to work with when I (hopefully) start my pre-school classes.
    Thanks for such a good read – I wish I’d discovered this blog earlier so that I could have followed your progress in real time, but I’ll have a read through your archive and enjoy it retrospectively instead!

  7. wylmenmuir 11th July 2012 at 6:50 am - Reply

    Thanks for the kind comments:) I’ve not looked at changes in the Foundation Stage yet, though one of the things I’m doing with the evidence I’ve gathered is mounting a case to do the same with the early years library in the school as I’ve done with teh Key Stage 2 library, and I will be looking at the effects on early years more closely once I get the go-ahead on this. Will certainly post about it when I do though. Happy reading.

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