Volume 77, Issue 6 p. 833-841
Teaching and Learning in Action
Open Access

Widening Teachers' Reading Repertoires: Moving beyond a Popular Childhood Canon

First published: 16 February 2024
Citations: 1

Abstract

To develop a love of reading in the young, teachers need rich repertoires of children's literature and other texts. However, the significance of this subject knowledge is rarely given the attention it deserves in policy, practice, or training contexts. This article, drawing on survey data from England and Finland, underlines these concerns. It reveals that in line with the surveys of practicing teachers, preservice teachers in the study also rely upon a narrow range of high-profile authors, mainly from childhood, and that these very distinctly lack diversity. The authors reflect on the reasons for professional over-reliance on this popular childhood canon and the potentially constraining consequences for child readers. They present key approaches to enable educators to develop diverse, in-depth literary repertoires and argue for the development of Reading Teachers—informed reading role models who effectively deploy responsibility, rigor, and relevance: the three Rs of reading for pleasure.

Children's literature is widely used in schools, but do teachers have sufficiently rich repertoires of relevant, diverse, and contemporary children's texts to nurture recreational reading?

PAUSE AND PONDER

  • Do you think your repertoire of children's literature is wide enough to nurture all your students as readers?
  • Thinking about the children's books you have read or shared recently, how many were published in the last 5 years?
  • To what extent do you offer tailored book recommendations to individuals, building on your knowledge of texts and of each child as a reader, while still enabling choice?
  • What strategies do you employ to ensure children see you as a fellow reader and reading role model?

Introduction

International evidence indicates that those young people who choose to read, and do so frequently, are likely to benefit academically, personally, and socially. Recreational reading is strongly associated with enhanced vocabulary, reading comprehension, and psychological well-being (Clark & Teravainen-Goff, 2018; McQuillan, 2019; Torppa et al., 2020). Through reading and discussing literature, young people explore their identities and others' life worlds (Ivey & Johnston, 2013; Koopman & Hakemulder, 2015). Furthermore, in classrooms that nurture volitional reading, children develop a sense of belonging and community (Cremin et al., 2014; Ng, 2018). Appropriately then, reading for pleasure is recognized by the International Literacy Association as the right of every child and a matter of social justice (ILA, 2018).

To realize this right, we argue teachers need to develop the three Rs of reading for pleasure: responsibility, rigor, and relevance. They need to recognize their professional responsibility to be knowledgeable reading partners with rich repertoires of personally relevant, contemporary, and diverse children's texts (Cremin et al., 2009, 2022; Hartsfield & Kimmel, 2020). They need to ensure there is rigor in their planned reading for pleasure pedagogy and be able to support each child's capacity to make wise and appropriate choices that motivate further reading. As Guthrie, McRae, and Klauda observe, students value the opinions of “trusted others” (Guthrie et al., 2007, p.306). However, teachers' subject knowledge of children's texts is not addressed fully within preservice education or professional development; too often it remains an optional specialism (Simpson, 2016), and national policy documentation tends to take such knowledge for granted. Moreover, children's literature is frequently presented as a utilitarian resource in education, used instrumentally to teach the skills of reading. This sidelines not only the part literature plays in nurturing the will—the desire to read—but also its contribution to developing as a reader.

Literature's potential to create imaginatively satisfying experiences often leaves children wanting more, thus motivating readers and impacting upon the frequency with which they read recreationally. Enhancing reading volume, Allington (2014) argues, is a key to develop young people's fluency and comprehension. Research with 15-year-olds indicates the presence of a “fiction effect”—evident in a stronger relationship between reading fiction and successful reading outcomes compared to other text types (Jerrim & Moss, 2019). The authors of this OECD data analysis suggest that literary language encourages deep reading and sustained engagement which lead to enhanced reading skills. This aligns with a study of Finnish 10-year-olds, that shows recreational fiction reading (compared to reading comics, magazines, and newspapers) more effectively supports comprehension (Leino et al., 2017). Research additionally indicates that literature contributes to enhanced knowledge and language skills (Mar & Rain, 2015), prompts personal resonances (Kuzmičová & Cremin, 2021), is associated with well-being (Clark & Teravainen-Goff, 2018), and is perceived to be a potent tool to help address educational inequities (Simpson & Cremin, 2022). Thus, to support readers in the round, and nurture the will and the skills of reading, teachers need secure knowledge of literary texts.

So in our study of English and Finnish preservice teachers as readers, we sought to understand more about their knowledge of children's literature. However, in both countries elementary children's attitudes and desire to read are low compared to their skills. In the last PIRLS, only 23% (Finnish) and 29% (English) children reported liking reading very much compared to the international median (IM) of 46%, while 30% and 24%, respectively, reported that they did not like it at all, compared to an IM of 18% (Mullis et al., 2023). To discern preservice teachers' landscapes of children's literature at the start of their training, we invited participants from eight universities to recommend six authors, illustrators, or poets for children. We shared the results so their education lecturers could build on these, enabling the future teachers to develop as informed reading role models. In what follows, we examine this concept and teachers' subject knowledge of texts, before turning to the study's research methods.

Teachers as Reading Role Models

It has long been argued that teachers who share their enthusiasm for reading enhance children's engagement as readers. Studies from the United States (Applegate et al., 2014; Commeyras et al., 2003), the United Kingdom (Cremin et al., 2014), Australia, (Merga, 2016; Simpson, 2016), Belgium (Vansteelandt et al., 2017), Finland (Kauppinen & Aerila, 2019), and Spain (Granado, 2014) all underscore the significance of teachers as reading role models. Research also suggests that teacher readers are more likely to use pedagogical strategies that are accepted as effective in fostering children's recreational reading (McKool & Gespass, 2009). These include rich text access, choice, reading aloud, time to read, informal text talks, and recommendations in social reading environments (Cremin et al., 2014; Fisher & Frey, 2018). Responsible teacher readers get to know children as readers in order to help them choose personally and emotionally relevant texts aligned with their interests (McGeown et al., 2020; Ng, 2018).

However, research also reveals that teachers are not as well positioned as they might be to nurture recreational reading. There are multiple reasons for this. While personally, teachers may value the satisfaction that reading literature and other texts offers, professionally, some do not recognize children's recreational reading as their responsibility (Garces-Bacsal et al., 2018), and view reading primarily as proficiency (Hempel-Jorgensen et al., 2018). In accountable education systems in which the standards agenda takes precedence, balancing reading instruction and reading for pleasure remain a challenge and can result in an impoverished reading for pleasure pedagogy that is activity-oriented, lacking an appropriate degree of rigor and attention to detail, and constraining learner engagement (Hempel-Jorgensen et al., 2018). Additionally, studies highlight that teachers' knowledge of children's literary texts is limited.

Teachers' Subject Knowledge of Children's Literature

Data from practicing and preservice teachers indicate that there are reasons to be concerned about practitioners' literary subject knowledge; scant interest in reading extended prose is recorded and little time is set aside for it (Applegate & Applegate, 2004; Rimensberger, 2014; Skaar et al., 2018). Drawing on Norwegian data, it is argued that a “downward trend” exists in the profession's capability to develop a love of reading in the young (Skaar et al., 2018, p. 320).

In the United Kingdom, research persistently reports that teachers' repertoires of children's literature are inadequate. Reliance on popular authors and texts from teachers' childhoods has been evidenced in three studies which respectively drew on: elementary teachers (n:1200; Cremin, Bearne, et al., 2008; Cremin, Mottram, et al., 2008), elementary and high school teachers (n:2362; Clark & Teravainen, 2015), and over 150 Scottish preservice teachers (Farrar, 2021). Notwithstanding the broad timespan of these surveys (2008–2021), Roald Dahl was pre-eminent, followed by J.K. Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson; all three were noted within the top four authors in each study. A survey of read-alouds chosen by UK teachers during lockdown again affirms a degree of “Dahl dependency” (CLPE, 2021).

In the United States, through examining 1099 elementary teachers' read-aloud choices, Conradi-Smith et al. (2022) found that the fiction selected or set was extremely dated. After removing classics (e.g., The Swiss Family Robinson, 1812) from the analysis, the mean publication date was 1995. The most popular books were Wonder (Palacio, 2012), Because of Winn Dixie (DiCamillo, 2000), and Charlotte's Web (White, 1952). While the texts, which were principally chosen for instructional purposes, may represent a subset of teachers' knowledge of books deemed suitable to study, they reflect neither racial diversity nor contemporary societal concerns (Conradi-Smith et al., 2022). This underscores our argument that knowing modern and diverse texts of relevance to today's children is a professional responsibility which deserves increased attention.

The Study

To understand preservice teachers' identities and practices as readers, researchers from Finland and England designed online questionnaires with six shared questions for comparison. Both quantitative and qualitative information about the participants' views, knowledge, memories, recommendations, and pedagogical practices for reading for pleasure was sought. In this paper, we draw on one question, drawn from Cremin, Bearne, et al. (2008) and Cremin, Mottram, et al. (2008), that asks participants to name six author/illustrator/poets that children would be likely to enjoy. We highlighted children's enjoyment, to avoid participants drawing on what they might perceive to be “classic” or “good” literature.

In England, 168 preservice teachers on a Postgraduate Certificate in Education for primary teaching participated. They were studying at three universities based in large cities, two in the South and one in the Southwest. Each university posted information and an invitation to take part on their online student forum at the start of the future teachers first year of study in autumn 2020. In Finland, 185 preservice teachers from five universities participated, they were studying to be primary teachers or early childhood educators in Central or Southwest Finland. The survey was completed during the autumn terms, 2020 and 2021. Participants received the online link through the Teacher Student Union of Finland or via lecturers who were researchers in the study. While we do not claim our small-scale survey findings are generalizable, we argue that alongside differences there are marked commonalities; it is likely that similar results and trends may be found in other contexts.

In both countries, participation was completely voluntary, it was not part of course requirements and was undertaken in participants' own time on their own devices with informed consent. The questionnaire was hosted on the Qualtrics platform in England and on Webropol in Finland. It allowed participants to withdraw at any time and to decline to answer any question. No identifying information was collected.

Connections and potential relationships between the various strands of the research noted previously were examined. This paper, however, only focuses upon the authors, illustrators, and poets (hereafter author-artists) whose work the English and Finnish preservice teachers believed children would be likely to enjoy, their recommendations were viewed as a proxy for their knowledge of children's writers. In what follows, we explore these and note that they coalesce around a small cadre of author-artists, whose commonalities we consider. Finally, we discuss the implications, for both teacher education and professional development and the value of developing Reading Teachers (Commeyras et al., 2003; Cremin et al., 2022) who, read widely, wisely, and reflectively in order to develop a love of reading in the young. Such teachers, we posit, effectively deploy the three Rs of reading for pleasure: responsibility, rigor, and relevance.

Findings: Narrow Repertoires that Lack Diversities

The preservice teachers were invited to recommend six author-artists that children would enjoy. Participants were free to name authors, illustrators/picture fiction creators, and poets. With 353 preservice teachers, there were a possible 2118 responses; however, the total number named was only 1473. Worryingly, over half of the English (52%) and 10% of the Finnish participants seemed unable to offer a single recommendation, they left the response blank, despite completing the survey. However, 40% of the English trainee teachers recommended six author-artists, 47% of the Finnish. Six English and 49 Finnish participants recommended a book not an author-artist.

Strikingly, in both countries, the recommendations made, coalesced around a limited number of author-artists. Overall, the data reflect a very narrow range in various ways including genre, nationality, gender, and the number of writers of color. See Figures 1 and 2 for a word cloud of the author-artists who received ten or more mentions in each country. These represent two thirds of the data in both countries.

Details are in the caption following the image
The English most Frequently Recommended Authors
Details are in the caption following the image
The Finnish most Frequently Recommended Authors

In England, nearly half of the preservice teachers who made recommendations named Roald Dahl, with around a third naming David Walliams, Julia Donaldson, and Jacqueline Wilson. In Finland, nearly half of the respondents recommended Mauri Kunnas, Sinikka and Tiina Nopola, J.K. Rowling, and Timo Parvela, while a third suggested Tove Jansson. The dominance of the top four in England and the top five in Finland, alongside Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling in both countries, places firmly in the wings authors who were mentioned far less frequently.

Details of the most recommended authors-artists who received more than ten mentions are shown in Table 1. It is notable that in the English data, the majority are British, except for Eric Carle and Dr. Seuss who are from the United States. This enhanced awareness of writers from one's own country is evident in the Finnish data too, demonstrating a strong reliance on domestic authors. However, J.K. Rowling and Roald Dahl from the United Kingdom and Jeff Kinney from the United States were also recommended, indicating that the work of some author-artists successfully transcends country borders.

Table 1. The most Frequently Recommended Authors, Illustrators, and Poets
England: Most frequently mentioned Finland: Most frequently mentioned
Author-artist N (%) Publication years Author-artist N (%) Publication years
Roald Dahl 81 (48) 1961–1991 Mauri Kunnas 76 (49) 1979 to present
David Walliams 53 (31.5) 2008 to present Sinikka & Tiina Nopola 74 (48) 1989–2021
Julia Donaldson 53 (31.5) 1976 to present J. K. Rowling (translated 1998) 70 (45.5) 1997 to present
Jacqueline Wilson 50 (30) 1969 to present Timo Parvela 69 (45) 1995 to present
Michael Morpurgo 36 (21) 1974 to present Tove Jansson 49 (32) 1933–1993
J.K. Rowling 35 (21) 1997 to present Aino Havukainen & Sami Toivonen 43 (28) 1997 to present
Michael Rosen 24 (14) 1979 to present Astrid Lindgren 43 (28) 1946–1990
Dr. Seuss 23 (14) 1931–1982 Paula Noronen 20 (13) 2007 to present
Enid Blyton 14 (8) 1922–1975 Kirsi Kunnas 16 (10) 1956–2021
Eric Carle 14 (8) 1967–1997 Jeff Kinney 12 (8) 2007 to present
Beatrix Potter 13 (8) 1901–1930 Roald Dahl 11 (7) 1961–1991

In terms of text genres, the most frequently recommended list is dominated by the writers of narrative texts, most, but not all, of which are illustrated. Their books span early childhood to the end of elementary school and include books for babies and preschool children (e.g., Carle and Havukainen and Toivonen), picture books (e.g., Donaldson and Kunnas), illustrated novels (e.g., Kinney and Noronen), and novels for younger (e.g., Dahl and Lindgren) and older children (e.g., Rowling and Jansson). Significantly, of the 20 author-artists on the most mentioned list, 14 have produced series as well as stand-alone stories.

The complete absence of graphic novelists in this list and in the whole dataset is notable, and few author-artists who create visual narratives for older readers were mentioned. Additionally, just two poets were noted in the most mentioned list (Rosen and Kunnas). In the complete dataset, only eight different poets and one information book creator were mentioned. The full range of genres remains completely unacknowledged.

Furthermore, scant writers of color or from other cultures were named, or even writers writing about other cultures. In the Finnish data, only one author-artist of color was recommended. In the English, 31 participants named author-artists of color; the most frequently mentioned were Malorie Blackman (n-9) and Onjali Q Raúf (n-6). In relation to gender, 58% (English) and 59% (Finnish) of the educators' recommended male author-artists; White male writers prevailed. In sum, extremely narrow repertoires that markedly lack diversity are evident, in the most mentioned list and the data overall.

Findings: Commonalities among the most Frequently Recommended Author-Artists

Examining the list of the most well-known authors named, several commonalities can be discerned. For example, all are highly productive with publishing careers that span several decades. Nine of the twenty most mentioned, including Enid Blyton, Eric Carle, Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, Tove Jansson, Kirsi Kunnas, Astrid Lindgren, Sinikka Nopola, and Beatrix Potter are no longer alive, but their work, some of which might well be deemed “classics,” continues to sell widely. Dr. Seuss's first book, The Pocketbook of Boners, was published in 1931, Roald Dahl's The Gremlins in 1942, although his popularity rose with the publication of James and the Giant Peach in 1961. In Finland, Kirsi Kunnas' original work for children Tiitiäisen satupuu (The Tumpkin's Story Tree) was printed in 1957. While the sales of individual titles vary, the authors on the most mentioned list have not been out of print since their first books were published.

The longevity of most of these author-artists' best-selling titles, many of which are series fiction, means that they were available in schools and libraries when the preservice teachers were children. Indeed, in responding to an earlier question about a favorite book as a child, 40% of the English and 30.5% of the Finnish participants recommended one written by an author-artist on the most mentioned list. Potent texts, first encountered in childhood, Waller (2019, p.265) argues, often retain persistent “affective traces” which are likely to be underscored by long-standing commitments to characters in well-loved series. Some childhood books, such as Beatrix Potter's animal tales or Tove Jansson's Moonmin stories, may even have been passed down from generation to generation in families, securing their place in individuals' memories through relational connections.

The popularity of the most mentioned author-artists is also fueled by the adaptations and transformations of their work, reshaped as TV animations (The Gruffalo by Donaldson and Twelve Presents to Santa by Kunnas), TV series (The Story of Tracy Beaker by Wilson and Pippi Longstocking by Lindren), and as plays (War Horse by Morpurgo and Maukka and Väykkä [Bicycling to the Moon] by Parvela). Translated into Finnish, the Harry Potter films speak for themselves as an international cultural phenomenon, which most of the preservice teachers will have experienced, even if they have not read the books. Additionally, associated merchandise, such as stationery, lunchboxes, soft toys, and clothing promote the characters and texts, alongside websites, video games, and opportunities to literally inhabit their fictional worlds (Beatrix Potter World in Cumbria, England and Moomin World in Naantali, Finland). In these ways, adolescent readers, now training to be teachers, are likely to have experienced and re-experienced these narratives, potentially leading to increased character affiliation and enhanced satisfaction in the texts (Gabriel & Young, 2011). The cult of celebrity authors (e.g., David Walliams and J.K. Rowling), supported by sustained and targeted marketing, and publishers' gift offers of reduced price box sets, will also have amplified the memorability of particular writers and their books.

Arguably, the commonalities among these author-artists indicate the presence of an informal group of writers of renown, in both England and Finland. It is not enough, however, merely to appreciate the enduring popularity or reification of such groups; educational implications need to be considered.

Conclusion and Implications

The findings show that future teachers from both these countries are entering their preservice education with very limited knowledge of children's author-artists; they draw on an extremely narrow range of well-known writers. The contribution of these author-artists to children's reading is not being questioned, undeniably they have a valuable role to play. However, we argue that the findings collectively reveal the presence of a popular childhood canon with similar characteristics. It is shaped by the longevity of authors' publishing careers, high productivity, childhood affiliation with fictional characters (across texts and illustrations), multiple cultural transformations, and intense marketing. Such an informal childhood canon may well be present in other countries. Neither the English nor the Finnish canon encompass poetry, non-fiction, or graphic novels; no attention is given to different genres. Significantly and more worryingly, writers of color and texts from a wider range of cultures are almost absent. A narrow range of domestic, mainly male author-artists who write in their mother tongue predominate, alongside a few internationally renowned writers. These findings align with earlier research into trainee, elementary, and high school teachers' knowledge and use of children's texts (Cremin, Bearne, et al., 2008; Cremin, Mottram, et al., 2008; Clark & Teravainen, 2015; Farrar, 2021; Conradi-Smith et al., 2022). Placed alongside these studies, the data highlight the need for a renewed focus on the diversity of teachers' textual repertoires. In many countries, however, the prescribed competences for preservice education pay scant attention to professional knowledge of children's texts.

This represents a concern, since sole reliance on a popular childhood canon is both limited and limiting; it is likely to constrain the development of children's own repertoires and pleasure in reading, and to restrict professional practice. Text breadth and diversity are of critical importance and all texts, including those from within a canon, need to be examined thoughtfully for their relevance. If teachers recognize the presence and influence of a popular childhood canon in their repertoires and are supported to take responsibility for rigorously reviewing the breadth and relevance of this, then potential limitations can be avoided.

Widening Repertoires

Young people's “access to quality books that reflect their current lives, backgrounds, literacies, and multiplicity of cultures is a basic human right” (Bennett et al., 2021, p.785) and a matter of social justice (OECD, 2021). Without a well-read and highly discerning education profession, the potential of children's texts to enhance children's social and emotional understanding, broaden perspectives and help address educational inequities will remain untapped. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that there is a long way to go before children's books positively represent all ethnicities and (dis)abilities, linguistic diversity, gender equality, and are LGBTQ-inclusive (CLPE, 2022; Crisp et al., 2016).

With increased awareness of this agenda, however, educators can be supported to read wisely and reflectively, deploy a principled approach to selecting children's books, and pay attention to potential tokenism as representation of diversity, through, for example, features such as “wallpapering” or limited “hair cueing” as the only indication that the character is from an ethnic minority background (CLPE, 2019). Support for reading that is deliberately inclusive in nature, which eschews pre-emptive censorship of scary, “rude,” or controversial books (Ivey & Johnston, 2018; Hartsfield & Kimmel, 2020), and encompasses reading out of one's comfort zone, is urgently needed in all forms of teacher education.

Nonetheless, it is challenging in preservice education courses to raise the profile of children's texts, ensuring a range of genres—literature, nonfiction, newspapers, magazines, and comics—in print and digital formats are read. Qualified professionals also find it hard to make the time for this purportedly leisure pursuit. Educators deserve help to critically explore the contemporary relevance of their repertoires, the potential presence of a childhood canon and to widen their knowledge of female authors, and children's texts reflecting realities and diversities. Opportunities for educators to consider their own identities as readers and reading role models are also invaluable (Commeyras et al., 2003; Cremin et al., 2022).

Developing as Reading Teachers: Fostering a Love of Reading

How teachers both view themselves and are seen by children as readers is important since their personal and professional engagement enables them to model the value, pleasure, and satisfaction they find in reading, and to induct children into such pleasures (Kauppinen & Aerila, 2019). Young people are acutely aware of their teachers' attitudes to reading, shown through their affective engagement in reading aloud and the opportunities seized to blether about books (Cremin et al., 2022; Merga, 2016). Informal reader to reader discussion impacts positively on children's own knowledge of texts and authors, their desire to read, and capacity to exercise discrimination and choice as readers (Cremin et al., 2014; Moses & Kelly, 2018).

So, teachers should take seriously the professional responsibility to widen their reading repertoires of children's texts beyond a childhood canon and deploy a rigorous reading for pleasure pedagogy (Brandt et al., 2021; Cremin et al., 2014). Such a pedagogy, responsive to the needs and interests of the children, is dependent upon knowledge of relevant texts and of each unique child reader, it encompasses careful planning, monitoring, and evaluation of the impact of particular practices on children's motivation to read. With help, novice teachers can come to appreciate the potency of the three Rs of reading for pleasure and take appropriate action.

By also considering the social, affective, and relational nature of reading, preservice teachers can be further supported to develop into the Reading Teachers of tomorrow. These enhanced educators are “reading role models [who] reflect upon the relationship between being a reader in their personal lives and being a teacher of reading in their professional lives and adjust their work with children to make the experience of reading more authentic and more relevant” (Cremin, 2022, p.3). Positioned as fellow readers, Reading Teachers (capital R, capital T) can support children's choice-led recreational reading, and widen access to texts of relevance that are aligned to students' cultural identities. While libraries are essential and community reading programs can enhance access (Shin et al., 2020), the role of classroom teachers in mediating pertinent, personally relevant texts in motivating ways remains vital.

In order to develop Reading Teachers and advance the profession's capacity to nurture children's reading for pleasure, The Open University in the United Kingdom has been working in partnership with 36 universities and hundreds of schools over the last 6 years. Many of their strategies can be used and applied elsewhere to broaden educators' knowledge beyond a popular childhood canon. These include, for example, the creation of Teacher Reading Groups, facilitated nationally by The Open University and the UK Literacy Association and led locally by volunteers (lecturers and teachers), and the development of Student Reading for Pleasure Ambassadors. The latter are preservice teachers who are supported to take responsibility for widening their own and their peers' knowledge and practice. Alongside this, preservice teachers in partner institutions are invited to undertake challenges (e.g., shadowing book awards) and practice-based assignments (e.g., running school book clubs), and publish their examples of research-informed practice on the dedicated website. Rigorous monitoring of the consequences for their peers and for children's recreational reading is required and culturally relevant texts which reflect diversities are prioritized throughout. Additionally, a diagnostic tool to discern preservice teachers' knowledge, attitudes, and identities as readers is in development, to enable formative assessment and responsive planning.

Responsibility, Rigor, and Relevance: The Three Rs of Reading for Pleasure

Responsibility, rigor, and relevance represent the three Rs of reading for pleasure and are, we argue, key characteristics of Reading Teachers. It is not just a professional responsibility for preservice and practicing teachers to develop a rich and constantly updated knowledge of children's literature and other texts, it is a moral and social one. In the context of developing as a Reading Teacher, such responsibility is more of an ethical stance than a matter of accountability, one which recognizes teaching as a relational practice and knowledge of individual child readers as critical. Reading Teachers also develop rigorous reading for pleasure pedagogy that is planned, monitored, and evaluated. It is not left to chance. Furthermore, to raise readers who can and do choose to read in their own time, Reading Teachers ensure the texts available have maximum relevance to their students' social, emotional and cultural lives.

Young readers deserve Reading Teachers who recognize that their repertoires may be shaped by the popular canons of childhood and who work to widen these, encompassing both texts that are “old and gold” and those that are “new, diverse and bold.”

TAKE ACTION!

  1. Read reflectively outside your comfort zone.
  2. Seek out awards given to racially diverse authors.
  3. Work in partnership with librarians to widen your own and children's reading repertoires.
  4. Invite children to set you a reading challenge.
  5. Share your home reading habits, enabling children to explore theirs too.

Biographies

  • Teresa Cremin is a Professor of Education (Literacy) in The Open University Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; email [email protected].

  • Sarah Jane Mukherjee is a Honorary Associate in the Open University Milton Keynes MK7 6AA, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; email [email protected].

  • Juli-Anna Aerila is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Turku, Turku 20014, Finland; email [email protected].

  • Merja Kauppinen is a Senior Lecturer in the University of Jyväskylä, Jyvaskyla 40014, Finland; email [email protected].

  • Mari Siipola is a PhD student in the University of Turku, Turku, Finland; email [email protected].

  • Johanna Lähteelä is a PhD student in the University of Turku, Turku 20014, Finland; email [email protected].