The 4 challenges of teaching reading and how to beat them!
![alt text](/filestore/BlogImage/d0207984-ff52-43ba-97c0-3c81dfb408b9/510392ab-f071-4e21-8330-bf7be6c6677f4challengesofteachingreadingEmilyWatkinson.jpg "Pain points of teaching reading") There is so much to consider when it comes to teaching reading: whole class texts, carousel guided reading activities, group reading, individual reading, a library, a book corner, dedicated teaching time, dedicated reading for pleasure time, as a lead on to writing lessons. We spoke to Emily Watkinson, a teacher at [Our Lady of Perpetual Succour in Blackburn](http://www.ourladysprimary.org.uk/), about the triumphs and challenges of teaching reading to her year 6 class. ### Igniting and maintaining a passion for reading One of the difficulties of teaching reading is keeping the passion and excitement going in students. “The reluctance to read can be difficult. Overcoming the reluctance to read is all about finding books that they’ll be interested in.” Once you have them reading, your good work shines through. “I love to see the passion and enthusiasm from students you get from a high quality text. If you can find a text that the children can really relate to or the children get something from, like if they’re finding it funny or a bit scary, then they want to carry on reading. I love times where the students say, “no don’t stop there! Carry on! Carry on reading it to us!” ### Choosing a text There is a lot involved in choosing the right text for any teacher teaching reading to a group of young people. Tastes, interests, hobbies, abilities and access all have to be taken into account when choosing books for the class. “It has to be a story that we can use through our English lessons and do writing that’s linked to it. It’s difficult to find those high quality texts that are modelling the writing expectations that children have to use because quite a lot of authors break the conventions that we have to teach.” “I look for books and writers that use a lot of descriptive language and imagery in their writing.” The likes of Michael Morpurgo, Philip Pullman, J.K. Rowling and Louis Sachar all spent time in a classroom, and their writing shows their in depth knowledge of the sort of writing that is required of students: their texts have an educational quality about them. But ex-teachers aren’t the only ones that make for good writers, “I find Malorie Blackman and Katherine Rundell have the ability to appeal to the students as well as providing texts that are rich in language. My class are reading Pig Heart Boy and the main character is someone they can all relate to; he’s a similar age and he’s grappling with sharing his secret with his friends. It grasps their attention which is what you need in a class text.” ### Learning to read deeply “My biggest battle is inference. It can be a difficult balance of teaching physical word reading and trying to model the skills needed to be an effective reader, trying to show them that as a reader, we should be constantly questioning things.” Word reading continues to be a skill into adulthood; we can’t know all the words. But once words we don’t understand have been dealt with, deeper reading skills must be taught in depth. Teaching inference is often about asking the right questions and modelling not just good answers, but also demonstrating the thought process behind a good answer. Examples of quality questioning to teach inference can be found in [inference Question Sets from Learning by Questions](https://www.lbq.org/Questions/UserQuestionSetPreview/Short-Reads-Classic-Fiction-Oliver-Twist-Extract-1-3-Inference). ### Embracing the reading life If you experience disaffected readers in the classroom, it can be a constant battle to get them to read. In an ideal world, reading shouldn’t be seen as a chore, but more of a treat. Emily recommends teachers read young adult fiction themselves to help with the problem, “I spend my life reading children’s books, so that I can recommend books to the children. I buy reading books, read them and then put them in the reading corner for the students.” Reading young adult fiction can spark great conversations with your students and even open you up to reading books you wouldn’t normally have chosen to enjoy yourself, “I only read Bad Dad (David Walliams, 2017) because the children were reading so many David Walliams books. I thought, I need to read David Walliams so that I can talk to them about them. It isn’t sort of book I would normally choose, but it was a great read!”