Building a reading for pleasure curriculum
Created: 7th March, 2024

The training, resources and research that CLPE have developed and provided for teachers and schools in the last fifty years all place access to quality literature at their hearts supporting schools to build a curriculum centred on Reading for Pleasure. We were therefore pleased to see the value of reading for pleasure recognised in the update to the DfE Reading Framework (published in July 2023).     

CLPE’s own research into Reading for Pleasure identified factors that are likely to be present in a school with a successful ‘reading for pleasure’ culture. Within this, developing an ethos and an environment that creates a community of readers who can share their responses and opinions and a read aloud programme that plans for talking about books and stories, are fundamental to such success. 

In Section 8 of the reading framework ‘Developing a Reading for pleasure culture’, it states that children’s emotional engagement ‘makes a key contribution to pupils’ development as readers’, so how can we create environments that promote emotional engagement to enable them to best develop as readers?  

Let’s take a look at some ways in which this can be achieved through creative teaching approaches that support rich discussion and book talk. 


Reading aloud and Re-reading: 


In The Reading Book (CLPE), Anne Thomas states that “Reading aloud to children may be the single most important thing a teacher does.”  

This is quite a statement to make, but one which truly encompasses how essential reading aloud is for all children. The DfE states on p101 of the Reading Framework 2023 that ‘Reading aloud fosters positive attitudes, enhances pupils’ motivation to read, and develops vocabulary’, so how and why is Reading Aloud such a powerful tool in supporting children to become lifelong readers? 

Well, Reading Aloud slows written language down so that children can hear and absorb the words, tunes and patterns. It enables children to experience and enjoy stories they might not otherwise meet, enlarging their reading interests and providing access to texts beyond their level of independence as readers. 

By reading well-chosen books aloud, teachers are modelling what fluency is by bringing the texts to life. It also fosters that sense of a class as a community of readers, sharing in the rich experience of a growing range of books they enjoy, get to know well and talk about. 

As part of our daily routines, we can be sure to enact the words of Anne Thomas by ensuring that all children experience hearing texts read aloud in the classroom. This could be storytime at the end of the day, a poem as we line up for lunch or a chapter of our class novel as we change for PE, or why not all three? The more children hear texts read aloud the more motivated they will be to become readers themselves. 

Providing opportunities for re-reading books is also important to help children to engage more deeply with them. It helps to make the text more familiar and enables children to read it more confidently, fluently and with greater attention to the meaning. 


children reading


Shared Reading   


Give children lots of experience of sharing books, reading for pleasure and purpose with opportunities to read alongside their trusted adults. Sharing books in the early stages of a child’s development allows the adult to model how to handle the book as an object, making clear what a child can come to expect from a book both in terms of conventions and experiences.  

By reading alongside children, teachers and other trusted adults can model enjoyment and the pleasure that can be derived from a book, from laughing out loud to highlight he humour, to gasping with surprise to intensify drama. 

The impact of shared reading experiences can be seen in CLPE’s recent Power of Reading in the Early Years research where social reading of a wide range of quality texts at home and in school has increased children’s enthusiasm and motivation as independent readers. 

By demonstrating what skilled readers do to make meaning from a text we can support children to practise this for themselves in shared reading, in revisiting the same book or other familiar books they have heard read aloud, and in re-reading their decodable books or carefully selected independent reading books several times. 


Book Talk 


book talk


Support children to develop a strong foundation of spoken language by modelling how to talk about the books they have read.  Support them to clarify ideas, relate reading to real experiences and be reflective. This too will develop their confidence and competency in their ability to articulate themselves in different contexts and create a safe space to share what they think about a book.   

We can make explicit the validity and value of children’s thoughts and contributions as this is an important part of shaping a child’s reader identity and allowing them to hear the thoughts of others. This supports them in seeing that interpretations can be varied and layered. 

By modelling what we as Reading Teachers think about the books we are reading and sharing allows children to understand that as reading is a social experience, the more we talk about them, the more we can make explicit the meaning that a text holds for us. We can plan for open-ended discussions around the books we have read to support and guide children’s responses and reflections. 


Responding to Illustration 


responding to illustration


Children are naturally drawn to the illustrations in a book and are frequently far more observant than an adult reader. Children’s interest in images and their ability to read them can be developed through carefully planned teaching opportunities with an emphasis on talk.  

Allow time and space to talk about what we notice in the illustrations to encourage all children, irrespective of their decoding skills, to share what they know about a story, helping to make the written text more accessible as a result. This will support children’s developing fluency and their comprehension of the texts they are engaging with and allow all children to develop motivation to want to read on to find out more and to experience the same pleasures that an accomplished reader experiences. 

CLPE's Power of Pictures Research showed that time spent focusing on illustration can contribute to children’s ability to read for meaning, express their ideas and respond to the texts they encounter, thus supporting them to develop as a reader who reads for pleasure. 


Debate & Argument/Conscience Alley: 


debate and arguement


Many of the Power of Reading teaching sequences use the drama technique Conscience Alley to prepare children for debate or persuasive writing. Conscience Alley is a useful technique for exploring any kind of dilemma faced by a character, providing an opportunity to analyse a decisive moment in greater detail.  


By supporting children to engage in a drama technique such as this, we are bringing the characters and storylines to life, providing opportunities for the children to discuss how this impacts on their engagement and enjoyment of the text. This promotes rich and meaningful dialogue and therefore children’s understanding and comprehension of the story allowing them to form deeper connections to it. 

You can find out more about a range of teaching approaches to support rich discussion and book talk by vising the CLPE Teaching Approaches page of our website.