Reading at Meridian
“Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible” – Barack Obama
Developing a culture of reading
Reading transcends class, race, age, and gender. Every child, regardless of age or ability, deserves to be able to access the written word. Readers who go on to develop a life-long love of literature not only decode, segment, and blend with ease, they have a genuine adoration for the power of prose. In order to stimulate a lasting love of reading, it’s crucial that we build a strong reading culture in schools. A reading culture is an environment where reading is championed, valued, respected, and encouraged and at Meridian High School we are supporting our students to read through many opportunities
At Meridian, our vision is to develop a love and appreciation for reading, building the cultural capital of our students which allows them to understand the people and world around them. Through reading, we aim to improve student’s literacy levels and enable them to access and use a higher range of vocabulary.
Studies show that reading for pleasure makes a big difference to children’s educational performance and future life chances.
Evidence suggests that children who read for enjoyment every day not only perform better in reading tests than those who don’t, but also develop a broader vocabulary, increased general knowledge and a better understanding of other cultures.
In fact, reading for pleasure is more likely to determine whether a child does well at school than their social or economic background.
Reading is also beneficial for the following reasons:
1) Improves the functioning of the brain
2) Increases Vocabulary
3) Improves theory of mind
4) Increases Knowledge
5) Sharpens Memory
6) Strengthens Writing Skills
7) Fosters Concentration
Tutor time reading
On a Wednesday and Thursday tutors read a novel with their tutor groups. This will encourage students to listen to books being read and to read aloud themselves.
The texts have been specially selected for each year group based on their chronological age but also building KS5 exposure into Year 11, in order to build their cultural competence and understanding of different viewpoints and perspectives.
Year 7 – ‘Boy 87’ by Ele Fountain
What is the book about?
Fourteen-year-old Shif and his best friend Bini are ordinary boys with big ambitions, but their world implodes when they attract the attention of the military "giffa". Wrenched from their families, they’re sent to a remote desert prison, where their cellmates are barely clinging on to life.
However, the boys’ arrival sparks hope in the imprisoned men, and they give everything to ensure their escape. Reaching the nearest town, Shif has only just begun the perilous journey which he hopes will end in safety and freedom.
Set in an unnamed country, this is a timely and important book which illuminates the realities of life as a refugee. The first-person narration simply but powerfully conveys Shif’s terror at the violence and cruelty he encounters, as well as his sense of loss. The horrors he is escaping are all too real, but this is ultimately a story about the power of kindness and the strength of the human spirit.
Why do we read this in Year 7?
This book covers the key emotional ideas of dealing with war, family, friendship, human rights, diversity, fear and loss. It also gives a wonderful perspective into what it is like to be a refugee or an asylum seeker. It is a book that helps to develop kindness, compassion and empathy with others, whether animals, friends or people in very different circumstances and situation.
Year 8 – ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’ by Mark Haddon
What is the book about?
Seen through the eyes of Christopher, a mathematical genius and Sherlock Holmes fan, who also has Asperger's syndrome, this bestselling novel opens with the discovery of a murdered dog on the neighbour's lawn.
In his search to discover the identity of the killer, Christopher uncovers some disturbing information about his own family, which throws his ordered world into chaos, and he embarks on a journey to London to find the mother he thought was dead.
This funny, touching and compelling novel was the winner of the inaugural Booktrust Teenage Prize. A must-read for adults and children alike, it is an adventure story unlike any other.
Why do we read this book in Year 8?
This book shows a fantastic insight into what it’s like to live with autism and what someone with autism’s thought-processes and other talents might be. It also follows the confusing and often scary world of life as a teenager. The book also covers key areas such as grief and parents splitting-up, so may help students to process and cope with these issues.
Year 9 – ‘Thief’ by Malorie Blackman
What is this book about?
You're the new girl in school. You're just trying to fit in - and it's not working. Then someone accuses you of theft, and you think things can't get any worse. Until you get caught in a freak storm . . .
The next thing you know, you're in the future. Being shot at for being out after curfew. You don't even recognise your hometown. And you're heading for a confrontation from your worst nightmare.
What if you could change the past to save the future?
Why do we read this book in Year 9?
This book deals with issues of injustice and shows what life can be like if everything is unfair. It also demonstrates the impacts false allegations can have on the friends and family of the person accused. This book is packed with action and atmosphere.
Year 10 – ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ by John Green
What is the book about?
Hazel’s parents want her to be an ordinary teenager. Unfortunately, it’s hard to live a normal life when you’ve got terminal cancer, an oxygen tank to lug around with you and worries about the impact your death will have on those around you to deal with. But when Hazel meets Augustus at the Teen Cancer Support Group her life is completely changed.
Teenage cancer isn’t a subject that is easy to write about and it’s even harder to do it without resorting to clichés. John Green however avoids any sentimentality and creates a vibrant, stimulating mediation on life, death and all the big questions with intelligent, well-drawn characters and compulsive storytelling. Witty and life-affirming, this young adult romance is heart-breaking in the very best sense of the word.
Why do we read this book in Year 10?
This book is not your typical teenage romance novel, it deals with a lot of important issues such as illness, loss, family, inclusivity and coming-of-age. It can help us to see how precious our lives are and that we shouldn't waste them being discriminative over race, sexuality, religion etc.
‘The Kite Runner’ – by Khaled Hosseini
What is the book about?
The unforgettable, heart-breaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his father’s servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed. It is about the power of reading, the price of betrayal, and the possibility of redemption; and an exploration of the power of fathers over sons—their love, their sacrifices, their lies.
A sweeping story of family, love, and friendship told against the devastating backdrop of the history of Afghanistan over the last thirty years, The Kite Runner is an unusual and powerful novel that has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic.
Why do we read this book in Year 11?
This book deals with some strong themes that shouldn't be taken lightly. It addresses friendship, betrayal, guilt and redemption. It shows how these threads can impact your life and that of those around you. It definitely makes you aware of the bigger picture and not simply focusing on what works best for you. It has a culturally rich plot and looks at the ideas of race, wealth and status. It also helps students to consider their identity and what makes them who they are.
8 autobiographies have been specifically chosen to promote a love of reading whilst allowing students to understand individuals from different walks of life with different experiences. Each student will be given a copy of this autobiography, appropriate for their reading ages, that they will read at the beginning of their English lesson as well as to read in their own time for pleasure. If a student finishes their autobiography they will ‘level up’ onto the next text.
- Ruby Bridges goes to school by Ruby Bridges Age 4-8
- El Deafo by Cece Bell Age 7+
- Mud, Sweat and Tears Junior Edition by Bear Grylls Age 9-11
- No-one is too small to make a difference by Greta Thunberg Age 11+
- Becoming by Michelle Obama age 11+
- I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai Age 12+
- Courage to Soar: A Body in Motion, A Life in Balance by Simone Biles 13-17
- Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges 13-18
The reading of these autobiographies will work towards a group presentation which will be created and delivered at the end of the year based on what the students have learnt and enjoyed about the book, author and experience.
Each subject will create a wider reading pack which complements their topics and subjects.
Subjects will collect challenging research and articles to work alongside their units and build on the vocabulary and knowledge required for students to access their subjects.This wider reading should be used inside the classroom as well as alongside their prep tasks.
The purpose of Prep is to develop the cultural capital and cultural competence of our students through a variety of home learning tasks. Prep should develop the independence of students through cross curricular links and contextual wider reading.
Subjects work together to set a prep pack with a task from each subject. Tasks should take up to an hour to complete but can take man forms; they could be a project, research task, a written piece, quizzes. Tasks will connect to the learning for that term whilst linking to the intent for prep.
Explicit teaching of new vocabulary
At Meridian High School we believe that if students know and understand more complex vocabulary they will be more likely to use this when communicating as well as in the academic writing. With this as a key driver as part of our reading and oracy strand we have adopted the Direct Vocabulary Instruction (DVI) approach when introducing new and challenging tier 3 vocabulary.
DVI helps students learn difficult words that represent complex concepts that are not part of the students' everyday experiences. DVI relevant to a given text leads to a better reading comprehension. It includes providing students with specific word instruction and teaching students word-learning strategies.
As part of DVI students repeat the word 3 times, the teacher then breaks down the word into prefixes and suffixes (if appropriate), the etymology and morphology of the word, synonyms of the word (usually using tier 1 and 2 vocabularly to support understanding) as well as a definition which is supported by dual coding.
At Meridian High School, our vision is to develop all students into fluent and effective readers who are challenged and encouraged to read for pleasure. We aim to expose students to a range of texts, from different genres, written by authors from a wide range of backgrounds. We want students to have the knowledge, behaviours and skills to demonstrate a rich cultural awareness which is necessary to be successful at school, further education and the world beyond education. We aim to take every opportunity to enhance the cultural capital of our students and equip them with the knowledge and experiences needed for life in society.
A book can transport us from our own world to another as we immerse ourselves in the lives of fictional characters, or learn about other cultures. A book can ignite curiosity about the world and fire up imaginations. With technology becoming a bigger part of our lives, reading and storytelling are essential and safe components in keep students engaged in learning, whether in the classroom or at home.
The School Library Association has also found that school libraries have been shown to impact pupils’ general academic attainment, reading and writing skills, plus wider learning skills, as well as their scores in history, mathematics and science. School libraries have also been found to have an impact on pupils’ reading enjoyment, reading behaviour and attitudes towards reading. Motivation and attitudes in particular have been connected to school library use. Several personal and interpersonal outcomes, such as self-esteem and the feeling of success and accomplishment, have also been associated with school library use.
What does the Meridian Library have to offer?
- A comfortable place to sit and read peacefully
- An area to read with friends
- A range of fiction and non-fiction texts
- A space to complete Prep work
- A space to work quietly
- A club space for break and lunch times
- A Reading Buddy scheme for Year 7 and Year 8 students
- An space for literacy lessons
Supporting our students in literacy and reading
The development of literacy and reading is a priority at Meridian High School. So to develop both literacy and reading skills we offer the following waves of provision to support our students.
World Book Day Celebrations
World Book Day changes lives through a love of books and reading. Our mission is to promote reading for pleasure, offering every child and young person the opportunity to have a book of their own. Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income. We want to see more children with a life-long habit of reading for pleasure and the improved life chances this brings them.
For world book day students and staff are encouraged to dress up as a literary character from a book of their choice. Students also have the opportunity to get involved in many reading relatedd activities which include:
The Masked Reader- students need to guess the reader from the short story or poem they are reading
Short stories- Students are read a short story at the beginning of every lesson on world book day.
Library leaders assembly- Library leaders deliver an assembly to the whole school which promotes a love of reading and showcases all of the WBD activities happening throughout the day.
Best dressed competition- Prizes for students and staff for the best dressed WBD character