Monday 23 July 2012
Guest Blog: Olympic Reading by Tom Palmer
Free Olympic football wall chart from coventry2012.blogspot.co.uk
The Olympics is a great opportunity to get children reading for pleasure. And there is no better time for the Games to be taking place than during the school summer holidays.
Parents know that children’s writing and reading skills can slip back during the six week break in July and August.
If an Olympic athlete was to stop training for six weeks, it would take them months to get back to their previous fitness and skill levels.
The same can be argued for children. Research has shown that if you keep children interested in literacy during the summer, over their whole school career they can be as much as three years ahead of their peers who did not.*
I’ve put together some tips for parents who want to use the Olympics to keep their children reading for pleasure. I hope it helps.
One. Read about the Olympics yourselves. If your children see you reading about something, they are more likely to read about it too. Find bits you think they’ll be interested in and draw them in.
Two. Leave newspapers, magazines and books about the Olympics around the house. Perhaps on the sofa or wherever you are going to be watching the games. Charts. Lists. Pictures. Anything that you think will attract their attention.
Three. Deliver an Olympic Games newspaper supplement or magazines to your child’s bedroom door on the morning of a big competition. Try and find a copy of the children’s newspaper, First News, which is bound to feature the Olympics strongly.
Four. Print off interesting articles/profiles/wall charts and stick them up around the house. On the fridge. In the toilet. On their bedroom wall.
Five. Go to your local library, bookshop or newsagents with your children and browse the Olympics reading sections that are now stuffed with materials. Let your child choose something to read about the games. There is some really good non-fiction around, from biographies of sporting greats to guidebooks to the games aimed at kids.
Six. Have a look at the new Olympic fiction by authors like Owen Slot, Robert Rigby and others. It is easy to find in bookshops, libraries and online at the moment. If your children are still happy to, read it with them at bedtime in chunks.
Seven. Create some kind of prediction game in your household where you all have to guess who is going to win a game, competition or race. Encourage the children to read the Olympic pull-outs from newspapers, that should give them an idea of who the favourites are. Keep a tally throughout the Games to see who wins. Provide a prize.
Eight. Find out if your local library is doing any Olympic events. Many are. Author visits, activity days and other such things are planned nationwide. Visit your council website, find the libraries link and they should have a list of their summer activities. There will probably be summer craft activities too.
Nine. Find a good website about the Olympics and have it as your home page if you have a computer at home. There is lots of excellent journalism on the internet about the Olympics.
Ten. Join the Summer Reading Challenge, a six-book reading quest for children in libraries throughout the UK, where children can earn bronze, silver and gold stickers for reading books over the summer. More info at www.summerreadingchallenge.org.uk. While you are there look at the sports section. Has one sport in particular excited your child? If so, libraries have great sections of ‘How to Play’ books on their shelves.
I hope some of this helps. If it does and your children like football, there are lots of free football literacy activities and free stories on my website at www.tompalmer.co.uk. Check out the Free Reads and Schools & Library sections.
Tom Palmer writes sports fiction for Puffin Books, HarperCollins and Barrington Stoke. Tom is running 28 Olympic reading events in libraries during the summer across England. Find out where and when at his blog www.footballdetective.blogspot.com. You’ll be very welcome.
* Sadly I cannot find the references for that research, so you’ll just have to take my word for that.