5+a Day

You are probably aware of the effective marketing campaign about eating 5 + servings a day of fruit and vegetables — how about adding a twist to the slogan and adding 5 + reading a day to our requirement for healthy living?  The association between the two was made by a colleague Glynis Shields, who heard a Ministry of Education Student Achievement Function practitioner make the 5 + a day reading recommendation at a school and thought hey, we should hitch school libraries and daily reading aloud to that wagon!

I liked the idea too and have mentioned it to teachers and librarians at various meetings and courses, and was delighted to hear about one teacher, Sam, at Matarau School, who took it on board for her own classroom practice.  She set herself the challenge of reading aloud to her Year 2 class 5+ times a day but in the way of things, busy days, sometimes wouldn’t meet that target. Undaunted, she gathered her students as allies, told them of her goal and why it was so important, and set herself up a sticker chart and started to really, publicly, keep track.  Her students eagerly reminded her coming to the end of the day if she hadn’t met her 5+ servings of reading aloud — they might allow a half sticker for a shared book session, but for a whole sticker, it had to be a real read-aloud!

The book Sam just finished with her class at the end of last term was Daisy and the Trouble with Zoos by Kes Gray — a book that, Sam said, “practically read itself” and it went down a treat with her students.  You might know Daisy from Eat your peas picture book fame, but this “Trouble with… series of short chapter books make a great extended read-aloud for younger students and an appealing choice for newly independent readers…

  • Daisy and the Trouble with Life
  • Daisy and the Trouble with Maggots
  • Daisy and the Trouble with Kittens
  • Daisy and the Trouble with Giants
  • Daisy and the Trouble with Christmas

Kes Gray’s website opens with the invitation to join in the fizz he creates…  “I like my books to fizz. Fizz can be funny. Fizz can be cheeky. Fizz can be daring. Fizz can be weird. If you like monster hugging and chameleon swallowing and penguin kidnapping and maggot pinging and loo inventing or the thought of growing a new brother or pooping on a duck’s head or even the idea of getting a bucket for your birthday… then you’re in the right place.” 

If you look at Kes Gray’s website, check out his marvellous, nostalgic Collections page, and he has actually done something that everyone around small children says they should do but rarely manage, ie keeping a note of the funny things kids say — see his Happy Book page.   And here is the link to the official Daisy website,  with some fun activity sheets to download.

So, how about it – a challenge for the rest of the year, a reading goal of 5 + a day reading aloud to your students – maybe a novel serialisation chapter or two, and a poem, a newspaper article or book review… And what about a library challenge – is reading aloud happening in the library 5 + times a day? I think it is a good idea to let the students know why you value your time reading with them, why you prioritise it, and if it helps, how about a sticker chart on display to celebrate the practice and fend off any potential slippage ?!

By Jeannie Skinner

Jeannie is a Facilitator in the National Capability Services team with Services to Schools.

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