The Importance of Reading at Gastrells

Reading is a skill that most of us take for granted, yet is one that is essential for being able to get on at school and in life. As a child grows up, being able to read well not only enables them to discover new facts and to learn at school, but also opens them up to a world of new ideas, stories and opportunities. As research shows, children who read for pleasure will achieve more than those that don’t in later life. All our staff are committed to ensuring that all children become independent and fluent readers during their time at our school. Ultimately, we want our children to enjoy reading and books just as much as we do!

At Gastrells we are passionate about books and this love of reading is shared with all our pupils. As you walk around the school, you are likely to see children from older year groups sharing books with their buddies, a child sharing a book with our reading dog Riley or children enjoying a quiet read in our library area.

The teaching of phonics

Our children’s phonics journey starts in Reception. Phonics provides vital foundations to become a fluent reader. You can read more about this here :

Developing the love of reading

We work hard to ensure this joy of reading extends beyond the classroom and support, promote and value the contributions that parents and carers make to their child’s reading at home. We enjoy taking our children to the Cheltenham Literature Festival each year and in recent years our children have been to see Paul Linnet the author of ‘Supertato’, Jennifer Killick, the author of ‘Crater Lake’ and Chris Riddle the author and illustrator. In addition to this we have organised visiting authors to talk to our pupils and further ignite their interest in books. A highlight of our year is World Book Day, which we always celebrate in style! As well as this our children in Upper Key Stage 2 hold regular ‘Reading Café’ sessions where alongside a drink and a biscuit the sole aim is to develop their love of books.

Gastrells Reading Spine

Over the course of the last couple of years we have developed and invested in our own reading spine at Gastrells which runs throughout school. Our aim with the reading spine is to immerse the children in high quality texts including different cultures and experiences, but above all of this, every child should now be able to ‘see’ themselves in the books too. With this mind we have carefully selected picture books, graphic novels, chapter books, non-fiction books and poems from a whole array of authors.

You can view our most up-to-date Gastrells Reading Spine here :

Gastrells Group Reading

Once the children at Gastrells have completed phase 5 of the phonics scheme, which typically occurs at the end of Year 2, the children move on to our Gastrells Group Reading Scheme. The purpose of this is for the children to read a shared text with a group of 3-5 other children; as they do this we encourage the children to have high quality discussions about what they are reading. Children in lower key stage 2 have these discussions shaped by a Teaching Assistant whereas as the children move into Upper Key Stage 2 these often become more independent with the children bringing their own comprehension questions to their weekly discussions about their book. Many of the group reading books have discussion guides from The Literacy Shed which help support high quality conversations from the staff and children alike.

You can view our most updated Gastrells Group Reading document here:

Class Reads

At Gastrells we believe that every child should be read to every day.

We use this ring-fenced time every day to introduce children to a whole range of books, authors and worlds which are new to them. As well as modelling good practice, this time every day has also proved invaluable at engaging and stretching readers with books which they feel may be beyond their ability as a reader but are perfect for their level of comprehension.