Research Spotlight

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June Research Spotlight

Nonfiction has been far less studied than fiction in relation to volitional reading, so do read this new study by Anezka Kuzmikova and Marketa Supa from Czechia. A fascinating exploration of the affective experiences, or pleasures, that children (aged 9-11 years) seek in their engagements with facts. Their toolkit to help understand child-led nonfiction reading as part of a wider array of everyday activities has potential for use in classrooms too.

The OU team have long argued teachers need rich repertoires of children’s texts. This paper, drawing on data from England and Finland, reveals that in line with the surveys of practicing teachers, trainees also rely upon a narrow range of high-profile authors that lack diversity. Teresa Cremin and colleagues reflect on the reasons for professional over-reliance on this popular childhood canon and the potentially constraining consequences for children.

In this fascinating and innovative article, Anezka Kuzmikova from Czechia draws on children’s focus groups and interviews to investigate their perceptions of bodily engagement when making meaning based on stories. The resultant toolkit has potential value to practitioners – teachers, carers and library workers – who wish to help children become more aware of their embodied selves and literate identities.

Children’s choices for recreational reading: not just fiction!

This study focuses on young readers’ independent reading behaviours and explores their preferences, selection processes, and rationales for their choices. Whilst not a recent study, the findings push back against the arguably accepted norm that fiction predominates, nudging us to find out more about children’s real preferences. The questions could valuably be used in your classroom. Read the article here.

This month, Sarah Mears of EmpathyLab explores the power of empathy in childhood, and how this underpins its campaign to build empathy skills through reading. She argues empathetic children can forge better friendships, regulate their feelings, tend to be happier and more settled at school and go on to be better workmates, parents and members of society. Read Sarah’s article on the empathy-boosting power of books and reading. 

This article, with the subtitle ‘Home Language Books in a Refugee Education Centre’ written by Nicola Daly and Libby Limbrick, both from New Zealand, describes the sourcing and introduction of books in the home language of children in the refugee resettlement programme in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Well worth reading and considering your own context – do children in your school have access to enough books in their home languages?

Children’s Literature and Social Justice

This article written by Alyson Simpson and Teresa Cremin, argues that literacy is core to more equitable literacy development. As there is little evidence that recent policy directives have positioned literacy in ways that promote social equity, they argue teachers have an ethical responsibility to redress this through their teaching.

Responsible Reading: Children’s Literature and Social Justice

Student Teachers as Readers: The ITE responsibility

This blog, by UKLA President Roger Macdonald, is the third in a series arising from the OU Student Teachers as Readers (STaRs) pilot research into their experiences and identities as readers and their views about supporting children as readers. It reveals cause for concern and the need for support and knowledge expansion in Initial Teacher Education.

Student Teachers as Readers: The ITE responsibility

Reading and Writing for Pleasure: Exploring systems and synergies that make a difference

The OU is research partner for the Mercers’ Company Special Initiative (2020-2023), funding six London-based programmes to develop reading and/or writing for pleasure with children and young people. This is the third blog in the series exploring the backgrounds, aims and approaches of these engaging programmes.

Reading and Writing for Pleasure: Exploring systems and synergies that make a difference

A Comparison of Children’s Reading on Paper v Screen

This 2021 paper by Norwegian researchers examines findings across international studies that compare children’s learning outcomes with digital and paper books.  It focuses on children’s story comprehension and vocabulary learning in relation to several variables. Which was most effective? Read on to find out!

A Comparison of Children’s Reading on Paper Versus Screen: A Meta-Analysis – May Irene Furenes, Natalia Kucirkova, Adriana G. Bus, 2021 (

Six literacy organisations and their rapid response to Covid-19

The Open University’s research team has been involved with six collaborative projects exploring effective approaches methodologies in Reading for Pleasure. This blog reviews how these projects had to adapt in response to the pandemic-related challenges of the past 18 months.

FINAL-Mercers-Blog-2.pdf (

Research: Understanding reading motivation across different text types

This article by Sarah McKeown, describes, in children’s own words, why they choose to read different text types (e.g., books, magazines, comics, etc). The article is open access and can be found here:

Shared Book Reading

This new article by the OU’s Lucy Rodriguez Leon and Jane Payler highlights the complexity involved in shared book reading and, amongst other elements, considers the importance of repetition in reading books to young children. FREE copies are available until March to download – do seize yours now!