Reading Schemes and Real Books: Implications for Skill Development and Motivation

Assignment type: Essay
Author: Francesca Nagle
Submitted: December 2012

Reading schemes have been widely accepted as providing the most appropriate opportunities for the application of early reading skills. However the evidence informing this position has been largely based on research examining the cognitive abilities of proficient readers. Recent perspectives from instructional psychology have shifted the focus from an understanding of individual differences in cognitive development to examining the properties of the texts themselves, in order to determine which materials most effectively support the development of reading skills. This essay examines the finding that real books offer greater opportunities for children to develop phonic skills and sight vocabulary than books drawn from a reading scheme, and the implications of this for selecting appropriate materials for reading instruction. In addition, the impact of reading scheme texts on children’s attitudes towards reading and perceptions of the reading process are considered. The essay concludes that reading schemes, when used in isolation, do not provide greater opportunities for children to apply their reading skills than real books, and may even discourage some children from wider reading, through a negative impact on motivation. It is therefore argued that reading instruction is most effective where teaching makes use of a wide range of literature, and is supported by direct instruction and support for autonomy. Potential implications for Educational Psychologists (EPs) in relation to supporting reading development are highlighted.

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