Literacy for pleasure: reading and writing connecting

Every hour spent reading is an hour spent learning to write; this continues to be true throughout a writer’s life. – Robert Macfarlane

Description of the principle

Successful writing teachers know that children who read more, write more and write better. A reading for pleasure pedagogy (Cremin et al. 2014; Hansen 1987) assists a writing for pleasure pedagogy since the individual reading of good texts available in school and in class libraries provides children with models, and continually suggests and inspires ideas and themes for personal writing projects. Successful writing teachers also know that reading aloud poems and whole texts to the class in an engaged way has a significant effect on children’s vocabulary and story comprehension, and increases the range of syntactic structures and linguistic features the children will use in their writing.

What teachers do

  • Teachers look to build a community of readers and writers concurrently.
  • They teach using a reading for pleasure pedagogy (Cremin et al. 2014).
  • They have print-rich classroom which also includes stories, non-fiction, poetry, newspapers, magazines and the children’s own published texts.
  • Teachers read aloud every day to their classes with pleasure and enthusiasm. This includes poetry, picture books, chapter books, non-fiction texts and sometimes their own writing.
  • Teachers encourage children to make links between what they were reading, their own lives and potential writing ideas. This includes discussing authors’ themes and analysing their craft, understanding and encouraging the use of intertextuality, and writing in personal response to texts read.
  • They understand that volitional reading can lead to volitional writing, ensuring that during independent reading time children can also write in their personal writing project books if they feel an urge to do so.
  • Children collect words, phrases and other good examples of a writer’s craft in the hope that they might come in useful at a later date.

Reviewing your practice: questions to consider

  • How do you teach reading through a reading for pleasure pedagogy?
  • How do you build a community of readers and writers concurrently.
  • Do you have a print-rich classroom which includes books about writing?
  • Do you read aloud a variety of texts regularly with pleasure and enthusiasm?
  • How do you promote children to read like writers and write like readers – looking for links between the books they read and their own lives?
  • Do you regularly talk about reading in general conversation, by discussing themes and analyze a writer’s craft?
  • How do you encourage, model and give children opportunity to collect and use aspects of their own reading in their writing projects?

Examples from the classroom

Can We Do Some Dabbling? Reading & Writing Connecting

The Benefits of Building a Class Library of Children’s Own Writing

Book-making In Nursery

Supporting resources

  • eBook: Reading in the writing classroom: A guide to finding, writing and using mentor texts with your class [LINK]
  • Our class writing projects – [LINK]
  • eBook: The BIG BOOK of writing mini-lessons: Lessons that teach powerful craft knowledge for 3-11 year olds [LINK]
  • Young, R. (2023) A list of great texts which teach great writing: Mentor texts for 3-103 year olds [LINK]

Suggested further reading

  • Young, R. (2023) Guidance on teaching at the sentence-level [LINK]
  • Young, R. (2023) Reading different types of fiction in the writing classroom [LINK]
  • Young, R. (2023) Reading different types of nonfiction in the writing classroom [LINK]
  • Young, R. (2023) What does the research say about reading in writing lessons? [LINK]
  • Young, R. (2023) Being a reader-writer-teacher [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2022) Imaginative writing: Our viewpoint [LINK]
  • Young, R., Ferguson, F., (2020) Issues with the book planning approach and how they can be addressed [LINK]
  • Young, R., (2021) The DfE’s Reading Framework: Our review and implications for teaching writing [LINK]
  • Young, R., (2020) Putting literature back into children’s hands Teach Reading & Writing [LINK]
  • Young, R., (2021) Writing is one of the best ways to teach reading… [LINK]
  • Young, R., (2021) A love letter to genre teaching [LINK]
Be reassuringly consistent

This chapter begins by reviewing the research evidence which has investigated the profound connection between reading and writing. Next, the authors lay down the principles and research related to a reading for pleasure pedagogy. The authors look specifically at reading’s role in promoting a Writing For Pleasure pedagogy. This includes concepts such as personal response; who possesses the text in a writing classroom; children participating in the creation of writing projects in response to reading; intertextuality; writing to learn; non-fiction and voice; knowledge-telling, knowledge transforming and knowledge crafting; collective social responses; the production of culturally sustaining texts; children writing about texts; learning from mentor texts; literature-based mini-lessons; teachers as reading and writing mentors, and children reading their peers’ compositions. Before concluding, the authors share what might be considered as a literacy for pleasure pedagogy and how teachers can profitably build a reading and writing community concurrently. The chapter ends with examples of effective practice from the classrooms of high-performing Writing For Pleasure teachers.


How Real-World Writers works

This chapter proposes that a reading for pleasure pedagogy can have a positive influence on writing for pleasure. Promotion of the reading and writing connections and integrated reading and writing approaches are popular and potentially effective. The chapter therefore provides teachers with advice on how to build a rich class library containing a variety of high-quality texts. It shows teachers how they can encourage children to discuss their personal responses during class read-alouds and how these discussions can lead to high-quality writing through the use of intertextuality. However, it questions the advisability of the currently popular ‘novel study’ or ‘book planning’ approach invading children’s writing and casts doubt on the benefits of ‘literary criticism’ as a part of teaching the craft of writing.

This chapter gives practical advice on how a class can democratically generate a variety of writing ideas inspired by the texts they have read together. It explains how teachers can help children see the connection between writing personal narrative or memoir and how we write stories. It explains how teachers can encourage children to dabble whilst they read or listen and to regularly ‘squirrel’ away great writing they’ve read. Other techniques and strategies are also discussed.


Subscribe to our newsletter