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How Reading matters in children’s development SLANZA Conference. Cathy Wylie 16 July 2013. Reading matters. Bar has been raised Schools Work Globalised & complex world Information overload A question of skills, or enjoyment ?. The role of reading in the Competent Learners study.

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How Reading matters in children’s development SLANZA Conference

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How Reading matters in children’s development SLANZA Conference

Cathy Wylie

16 July 2013

Reading matters

  • Bar has been raised

    • Schools

    • Work

    • Globalised & complex world

    • Information overload

  • A question of skills, or enjoyment?

The role of reading in the Competent Learners study

  • How do educational and home experiences help reading development?

  • How does reading feed children and young people’s development?

Competent Learners study

  • Started in 1993, following Wellington region children from their final months in early childhood education

  • Data-collection at age near-5, 6, 8, 10,12, 14, 16 & 20.

  • Smallest of the country’s longitudinal projects, only one with a prime education focus

  • Funded by Ministry of Education & NZCER


  • Chosen if linked to

    • learning as children & adults

    • participation in social & work worlds

Cognitive competencies

Reading comprehension (& early skills)



Ravens standard progressive matrices

Attitudinal competencies

  • Communication

    • Listening

    • Speaking



      Social skills


Contexts for competencies

ECE, school, & class experiences

family resources

out-of-education experiences



thoughts for future

Some major themes

  • The importance of attitudinal competencies

  • Rich learning opportunities matter

    • ‘two sides of the coin’

  • Strength of maternal qualifications, as well as family income

  • Performance is not set in stone early on

    • More than half of those with low performance at age 8 went on to gain NCEA level 2 or 3

The inter-relation of cognitive and attitudinal competencies

Age 5 levelAge 6 levelAge 8 level


attitudes attitudesattitudes

Two sides of the coin

  • interaction,

  • language, symbols, patterns

  • have goals, challenge

  • ask persistence and concentration

  • give rewards,

  • provide enjoyment

  • experience of ‘flow’

  • build confidence

  • respect individuality of learners

A seeming puzzle - 1

  • Home reading & writing activities linked to children’s reading performance at age 5

  • But not the frequency of being read to once family income & maternal qualification taken into account.

A seeming puzzle – 2

  • ‘Print-saturated’ ECE environments linked with children’s reading performance

    But not the frequency of story reading


Some clues from other experiences

linked to 5-year olds’ reading performance

Play & activities with others that use language

Interaction with ECE teachers that extends language

Especially for children from low-income homes

Computer at home

Phonemic awareness

‘reading at home’

  • What stories or pieces are chosen?

    • What is available?

      • The later link with regular public library use

  • How is the reading done?

  • What does the child see their parent enjoying?

‘print saturated’ =

  • Print visible on a variety of surfaces at child’s eye level or just above

    • Posters, packets, charts, containers

  • Child-focused

  • Range of books readily accessible

  • Children encouraged to look at and ‘read’ books

Growing up with…

  • Language use

  • The written word all around

  • The written word in everyday use

  • Producing as well as taking in

  • Reading as family habit

Cumulative gain, or loss

  • Enjoyment of reading

  • Engagement in learning

    X Overuse of TV or electronic games

Why does too much TV undermine?

  • Competes with reading for time

    • Accessible without written word, so more attractive for insecure readers

  • Predominantly visual

  • Does not ask viewers to express themselves in language

Study of children’s processing of stories

  • TV: better long-term memory of narrative

    • Less encouragement to introduce new ideas

  • Reading:

    • more clarity about characters

    • More room for thought & language use

    • Encourages

      • expressive language

      • invention of new ideas

        Van derVoort 2001

  • Script analysis study

    • 15 favourite teenage programmes in US

      Limited lexicons

      Short utterance and sentence length

      Simple sentence structure

      Little use of figurative language

      (Liberman 1986)

    Enjoyment of reading

    • Highly associated with competency levels, secondary qualification levels

    • Those who enjoy reading tend to be more omnivorous in their reading than those who do not

      • Able to access wider range of knowledge, information

    • Fiction preferred over non-fiction (age 20: 67% enjoy reading fiction, 38% non-fiction)

    National Literacy Trust study

    • 2010, on-line;

    • 4503 UK children, aged 8-14

    • Measures of

      • Reading enjoyment

      • Reading behaviour

      • Reading attitudes

      • reading attainment (from teachers)

    Model of reading enjoyment & reading attainment


    Reading enjoyment




    Reading behaviour


    Reading attitudes


    The library as hub

    • Print-saturated

    • Sufficient range for interests & purpose

    • Modelling paths of choice & critique

    • Deep Enjoyment

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