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

  • Do you teach reading through a reading for pleasure pedagogy?
  • 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?
  • 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?
  • 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

Supporting documents

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.

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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.

DOWNLOAD CHAPTER

Supporting resources

  • The WfP Centre’s class writing projects – [LINK]
  • Our BIG BOOK Of Writing Mini-Lessons: Lessons That Teach Powerful Craft Knowledge For 3-11 Year Olds [LINK]
  • Our guide to reading with children at home [LINK]

Suggested further reading

  • 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., Ferguson, F., (2019) Do approaches which teach reading and writing together improve children’s 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]

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  • Benton, M., Fox G., (1985) Teaching Literature 9-14 Oxford University Press: Oxford
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  • Corden, R. (2007) Developing reading–writing connections: The impact of explicit instruction of literary devices on the quality of children’s narrative writing. Journal of Research in Childhood Education 21: 269–289
  • Creber, P., (1990) Thinking Through English Buckingham: Open University Press
  • Cremin, T., Mottram, M., Collins, F., Powell, S., Safford, K., (2014) Building Communities Of Engaged Readers: Reading For Pleasure London: Routledge
  • Cremin, T. & Myhill, D. (2012). Writing Voices: Creating Communities of Writers. London: Routledge.
  • Dorfman, L. R. and Cappelli (2017)(2nd Ed). Mentor Texts: Teaching Writing Through Children’s Literature, K-6. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
  • Dressel, J. H. (1990) The effects of listening to and discussing different qualities of children’s literature on the narrative writing of fifth graders. Research in the Teaching of English 24: 397–414.
  • Graham, S., Xinghua, L., Aitken, A., Ng, C., Bartlett, B., Harris, K., Holzapfel, J., (2018)  Effectiveness of Literacy Programs Balancing Reading and Writing Instruction: A Meta-Analysis In Reading Research Quarterly, v53 n3 p279-304
  • Graham, S., & Hebert, M. (2011). Writing to read: A meta-analysis of the impact of writing and writing instruction on reading In Harvard Educational Review, 81(4), 710–744.
  • Graham, S., McKeown, D., Kiuhara, S., & Harris, K. R. (2012). A meta-analysis of writing instruction for students in the elementary grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104(4), 879-896.
  • Hackman, S., (1987) Responding in writing: the use of exploratory writing in the literature classroom London: NATE
  • Hansen, J., (2001)(2nd Ed) When Writers Read Heinemann: USA
  • Harwayne, S., (1992) Lasting Impressions Weaving Literature into the Writing Workshop USA: Pearson
  • Heller, M., (1999) Reading-Writing Connections: From Theory To Practice London: Routledge
  • Holliway, D., (2004) Through the eyes of my reader: a strategy for improving audience perspective in children’s descriptive writing Journal of research in childhood education 18(4) pp.334-349
  • Lewison, M., & Heffernan, L. (2008). Rewriting writers workshop: Creating safe spaces for disruptive stories. Research in the Teaching of English, 42, 435-465
  • Morrow, L.M., & Young, J. (1997). A collaborative family literacy program: The effects on children’s motivation and literacy achievement. In Early Child Development and Care, 127(1), 13–25.
  • Murray, D. (1993) (3rd Ed) Read to write Dryden: USA
  • Nelson, N., & Calfee, R., (1998) The reading-writing connection viewed historically, in N. Nelson and R.C. Calfee (eds), The Reading Writing Connection: Ninety-Seventh Yearbook of the National Society of the Study of Education, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. pp.1−52.
  • Parry, B. & Taylor, L., (2018) Readers in the round: children’s holistic engagements with texts In Literacy 52 (2): 103-110
  • Roche, M., (2014) Developing children’s critical thinking through picture books London: Routledge
  • Rosen, H., (2017) (Edited Richmond, J.) Writing on life, language and learning 1958-2008 London: UCL Press
  • Rosen, M., (2018) Writing For Pleasure London: Michael Rosen
  • Senechal, M., Hill, S., Malette, M., (2018) Individual differences in grade 4 children’s written compositions: The role of online planning and revising, oral storytelling, and reading for pleasure Cognitive Development 45 pp.92-104
  • Williams, C., (2017) A journey into the cogs of an author’s brain’: a critical study of children’s responses to metafictive devices in picturebooks [Unpublished thesis] University Of Cambridge

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