Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Education

Research Student: Lucy Taylor

Photo of Lucy Taylor

Investigating the relationship between children’s reading and their writing at upper primary school.

Submission Date: October 2018

The relationship between the child as reader and the child as writer is significant to an understanding of literacy development and academic success in children.  The focus of this paper is to interrogate this relationship. Children bring a wide range of reading experiences into the classroom, from classic children’s literature to popular fiction, magazines to text messages, but school assessments reward some types of writing more highly than others.  Children who read widely for pleasure are more likely to be successful in school writing, but the interaction between these two aspects of their literacy development is not clearly understood or defined. My research investigates the extent to which children’s reading preferences are reflected in their writing choices and the style of their writing, and considers the role children’s literature has to play in children’s development as writers.  I argue that children interact creatively with the literature they read as they make and remake texts.  Through a study of children’s reading preferences, achievement in school based reading and writing, and free choice writing I aim to draw conclusions about the nature and impact of the relationship between the child as reader and child as writer.  In an increasingly high stakes testing culture, amid concerns about the standard of children’s writing this research seeks to re-establish connections between reading and writing and to consider implications for the primary classroom.

Background

My undergraduate degree was in English Literature at the University of York and I have a Master’s degree in Education.  I am a former primary school teacher and have worked in the UK and Europe with subject responsibility for English across the primary age phase. I taught Children’s Literature at The Open University for a number of years and now teach part-time on the Primary PGCE programme at the University of Leeds, focusing on primary English.  

I am an ESRC funded PhD student and my research draws together my interest in primary teaching, literacy development and children’s literature.

What motivated me to undertake PhD study?

Having competed an MA in Education which focused on boys and literacy I was interested to explore literacy development further. Knowing that there was a supervisor at Leeds who would be able to support me in my work was a key factor in my decision.

What makes me passionate about my subject?

Every project starts somewhere, with a seed of an idea, a hunch, a feeling, a moment of inspiration or an accumulation of thoughts. Mine developed through observing children in classrooms as a primary teacher and continued through working with students as a teacher educator.  I’ve always had a strong interest in children’s literature and in particular how it can be used in the classroom. 

My observations formed into six key ideas:

  1. Children like to rewrite their favourite stories              
  2. Children like to include their favourite characters in their writing
  3. Children use stories they have read as frameworks for their own writing
  4. Children use vocabulary and stylistic features which reflect books they have read in a range of genres
  5. Children who are keen readers are better writers                 
  6. Reading and writing have become separate from each other in the primary classroom.

The implications of understanding more about the relationship between reading and writing could be quite significant. We still don’t know enough about the relationship between reading and writing or the way this relationship works, and it is the desire to expand our understanding of this relationship that drives my interest in this study. 

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