Talking about texts and talking about reading was at the heart of the RfP pedagogy identified in the TaRs research. This booktalk was informal and highly reciprocal; it was often spontaneous and involved two way teacher-child / child-teacher and child-child recommendations and was found in many other un-assessed reading focused activities.
Time for children to read and talk about their reading was central to building rich reading communities in the TaRs research. Children’s choice and access to a wide range of quality and enticing texts was also key to the success of this practice.
Reading aloud and discussing the text was a crucial strand of the RfP pedagogy identified in the TaRs research. It enabled children to access rich and challenging texts, offered a model for silent independent reading, prompted the children’s affective engagement and created a class repertoire of ‘texts in common’ to discuss.
The TaRs research project found that RfP is strongly influenced by relationships between children, teachers, families and communities. Where shared understandings were established about the changing nature of reading and the value of everyday reading practices, these supported children’s RfP. These reading communities generated new kinds of talk about reading.
In order to successfully foster RfP, the Teachers as Readers (TaRs) research project found that teachers need a wide and up to date knowledge of children’s literature and other texts.
Social reading environments were seen to be key to creating richly reciprocal reading communities in the TaRs research. Physically engaging, the most successful environments tempted children into texts and offered spaces to relax, browse, and read for pleasure.
The TaRs project built on Commeyras et al’s (2003) American research and revealed that those professionals who were both readers and teachers, and who examined their own experience of reading were better positioned to develop genuinely reciprocal reading communities. By sharing their own experiences of reading, these teachers made a positive impact on children’s desire to read and frequency of reading at home and at school.
The TaRs research project revealed that when teachers knew more about children’s reading practices and experiences beyond school they were more effective in nurturing RfP and building communities of readers. They understood more about each individual child’s interests and preferences. Thus they came to question what counts as reading in their classes, began to include more than just books and worked in collaboration with children to widen the variety of texts which were recognised for reading.