Wellington’s primary school children marked World Book Day in colourful and imaginative ways this week.
Wellesley Park pupils – and staff too – dressed up as animal characters from stories during a week of activities involving books, studied, read in class and shared in a whole school assembly.
Rockwell Green Primary School children dressed as their favourite character from literature.
St John’s C of E Primary School pupils incorporated World Book Day into an enrichment week of colour-themed activities. Children wore bright, colour-coordinated clothes for the day, parents and carers were invited into classes to work alongside children, the school hosted a Book Fair and pupils took part in a sponsored read with all money raised going towards buying new books for the school.
World Book Day, now in its 20th year, is an annual celebration of authors, illustrators and reading marked in more than 100 countries around the world. This year it coincides with the publication by the assessment service Renaissance UK of an analysis of 850,000 UK children’s reading habits. The study finds that, whilst primary school pupils read more difficult books and, in general, achieve a reading age that matches their chronological age by the time they are 11, they fall behind in secondary school.
By the first year of secondary school they are reading books around a year behind their chronological age and in Year 8 (12 to 13 years) pupils were reading books around two years behind where they should be. For children in Years 9 to 11 (aged 13 to 16), the report says: “On average these pupils were reading at well over three years below their age” which means that many children taking GCSE exams this year are likely to have a reading age of around 13 according to Renaissance UK’s analysis.
Professor Keith Topping of Dundee University, who carried out the research, said: “The brain is a muscle that literacy skills help train. As it gets more toned, like all muscles, it needs more exercise. Currently, primary schools are exercising it more vigorously by reading more challenging books. We now need to replicate this in secondary schools. I would also encourage all secondary teachers, not just English teachers, to look closely at their pupils’ literacy levels and remember that even the brightest students need to be stretched.”