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Reading for Pleasure

“Books enable children to discover new worlds, meet new people and learn about the past, but they also have the power to transform lives. By sparking growing imaginations, stimulating critical thinking and helping to develop empathy, reading gives children the very skills they need to succeed at school, at work and in life.”

                         – Cressida Cowell, author of How to Train Your Dragon

At St Mary Cray Primary Academy we are passionate about reading! Reading is one of the most important skills that children develop at Primary School. It allows them to understand the world around them, access fantastic worlds with engaging characters and exciting adventures and comprehend concepts across the Curriculum.

Developing a love of reading across the school is one of our goals at St Mary Cray. Reading is not something that children should only do in school; it needs to be an everyday part of our lives, something we choose to do at all ages. At St Mary Cray we want to build a culture of reading for enjoyment that will benefit children in so many ways. We recognise that reading for pleasure will encourage children to succeed both academically and socially.

Research shows that children face challenges in choosing appropriate reading material. Our curriculum and the choices in text we make in school are developed in conjunction with the CLPE. The CLPE is the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education. To help support schools and families they have developed core book lists which contain reading material which not only benefits children's reading development but even more importantly are texts that children love to read. Their website is This is free and has materials for children 3-11 years old with sections for all including reluctant readers, emerging readers and more able readers.

Here are some of the things we are doing to promote a love of reading across the school:

 Developing our reading environments

It may seem obvious, but the school environment can really make a big impact. All of our classrooms have inviting, well-organised reading corners. A lot of emphasis has been placed on not only how accessible and welcoming they are, but also how many good-quality, age-appropriate books are available. Sometimes less is best!

We also have a school library full of books for all ages and abilities. Every class has a designated library slot during which they help to tidy and care for our library, as well as reading and choosing books together.

 Class reading time

Reading to the class is a priority and it doesn’t have to fit into the curriculum, the timetable or have an objective which needs ticking off. Every day, each class is read to by their teacher during a set time. Teachers choose books that they really enjoy reading and it’s lovely to see children throughout the school listen to a wide variety of books and stories together.

 Involving the community

At St Mary Cray we love to involve our parents. We aim to support parents with tips and techniques for helping children develop reading, comprehension skills and a love of reading.

We send reading books home which children can read to their parents, siblings or other family members.

We have a fantastic group of volunteers who read with our Year 1 children every afternoon.

Every Friday morning, parents of Key Stage 1 pupils are invited into the classroom to share books with their children. Older siblings are welcome to come and read with their younger siblings during this time as well.

We have strong links with our local library and we aim for every class to visit the library once a term.

 Author visits, World Book Day and other special events

We have been so lucky this year to have several authors come to our school for reading events. Some of these are aimed at the whole school in which we all come together to listen to an author read from their books and talk about what it is like to write for a living. We have also had writing workshops for our Key Stage 2 children and readings specifically aimed at our children in EYFS and Key Stage 1. It is so inspiring to hear these authors talk about their books. It also encourages children to read books they might not usually read.

We celebrate World Book Day every year; it is one of our favourite events! Children and adults alike dress up as characters from their favourite books and we spend the whole day sharing stories and books.

We also organise other events geared towards developing a love of reading in the school: book fairs, workshops and national book events to name a few.