x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

School reading scheme bids to boost youths' love of books

Reading programme starts for Grade 7 pupils at Al Yasmina school.

n:“For just 15 minutes, they forgot everything else.” More than 300 pupils read their favourite books at the Al Yasmina school for the launch of a new accelerated reading programme.
n:“For just 15 minutes, they forgot everything else.” More than 300 pupils read their favourite books at the Al Yasmina school for the launch of a new accelerated reading programme.

ABU DHABI // Kayan Khraisheh, 11, joined more than 300 other pupils who read their favourite books silently for 15 minutes at Al Yasmina school hall yesterday.

The Year 7 student is participating in a new accelerated reader programme that aims to improve students' reading abilities and promote a lifelong love of books.

"It's a good thing," she said. "For those who don't love reading, it encourages them to do so."

Kayan loves to read, and goes through at least seven 300-page mystery and fantasy books a month.

"When you read, it's like you're in another world," said Kayan, who is currently reading Invisible City, a novel by MG Harris. "It's like you're in the book."

Judith Walsh, the school's assistant curriculum team leader for English, said not too many students read for pleasure.

But yesterday, about 360 students from Years 7 to 9 were armed with books of their own choice. Of those, 120 Year 7 students are taking part in this year's scheme, which will be rolled out next year to students in Years 5 to 9.

"For just 15 minutes today, they forgot everything else and read for enjoyment," Mrs Walsh said.

Accelerated Reading is a tracking and monitoring tool used to encourage students to read and is based on their individual abilities.

They are tested on their basic language and literacy skills and the results are used to put together a range of books for them to choose from.

After finishing a book, students take part in a quiz to test how well they understood the material.

"It's a baseline assessment to determine a student's current comprehension level," Ms Walsh said. "It directs them to a range of books that will challenge them."

Points are awarded to students each time they win a quiz and these points are exchanged for prizes. As they pass more quizzes, the difficulty level increases.

"They're all excited about it," Ms Walsh said. "They're involved in competitions and love quizzes."

rruiz@thenational.ae