Wider reading at Key Stage 3: happy accidents, bootlegging and serial readers

Westbrook, Jo (2007) Wider reading at Key Stage 3: happy accidents, bootlegging and serial readers. Literacy, 41 (3). pp. 147-154. ISSN 1741-4350

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This paper reports a small-scale study of wider reading at Key Stage 3 in current English classrooms in secondary schools in the south of England. Six English teachers, three of whom were relatively new to teaching, were interviewed on what they thought about wider reading. The findings indicate that because of a lack of time and absence of demand for such reading in the current English curriculum, the more experienced teachers felt ambivalent about encouraging and assessing wider reading. The less experienced teachers were uncertain about how to encourage it and whether to respond positively to students' preferred reading patterns, such as the serial reading of books by a particular author. In several of the schools concerned, it appeared that school librarians had taken over the role of encouraging wider reading, as the English teachers focused on the technical skills required by the National Literacy Strategy. Where teachers did initiate wider reading, this was sometimes against departmental practice, a semi-illicit addition to their workload and could thus be seen almost as a form of `bootlegging¿. In addition to wider educational effects, the lack of support for this practice has implications for students' future success in English at General Certificate of Secondary Education and Key Stage 5 (16¿18) as both require students to read whole texts widely and confidently. The paper argues that it might be more productive to prepare students for this than to expect such reading to develop spontaneously as a `happy accident¿.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: wider reading;National Literacy Strategy;pupil choice;teacher subject knowledge;reading patterns;role of librarians;social justice;reading initiatives
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Education
Depositing User: Jo Westbrook
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:47
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2012 13:43
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/28086
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