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The @OpenUniversity (OU) is launching Book Chat: Reading with your Child, a resource which comprises three short films and support materials to help parents, families and carers read books conversationally and creatively to children. Working with Macmillan Children’s Books, the films use a selection of their picture books and a poetry collection to support families with reading to different ages of children.

 Book Chat is the informal interaction that accompanies quality reading to and with children, developing children’s language and comprehension and nurturing a love of reading. The films model this relaxed interaction through the use of open questions, comments and prompts to initiate Book Chat and enable parents and children to share the pleasure of reading together –  a significant step for the project, as homelife becomes even more important whilst families cope with a post-pandemic world.

The films are based around three titles published on the Macmillan Children’s Books list and their Two Hoots illustrated imprint. Each is aimed at a different age of child who will be engaging with the stories or poems. One Fox by Kate Read (5+), A House that Once Was by Julie Fogliano and illustrated by Lane Smith (7+) and The Same Inside: Poems about Empathy and Friendship, a collection of poems by Liz Brownlee, Matt Goodfellow and Roger Stevens (9+).

The new films and support materials can be found here.

The OU’s Reading for Pleasure programme is led by Professor Teresa Cremin, who also reads on one of the films, along with Richard Charlesworth and Ben Harris, both experienced teachers and long-standing partners of The Open University’s work. The aim is to reach over a million families across the UK, through The OU, The Reading Agency, The United Kingdom Literacy Association (UKLA) and the Department for Education’s English Hubs as well as through other consumer-facing partners. 

Teresa Cremin, Professor of Education at The Open University, says:

“Drawing on our research and practitioner networks, the OU was well placed to produce this Book Chat resource which offers support and advice to parents to read with their children and discuss the text.  These conversations are critical as they invite children’s deep engagement, prompt them to imagine, and help them make sense of what they are reading. Book Chat fosters a love of reading.”

Alyx Price, Associate Publisher at Macmillan Children’s Books, says:

We were delighted when the OU approached us to support Book Chat. We have partnered with them on other Reading for Pleasure initiatives and this new project was a perfect match for us, particularly at this important time for families and home life. Book Chat offers great support to families and carers who don’t know where to start, as well as giving new inspiration to those who already share stories regularly with their children. The selected titles are perfect for reading aloud and the films will introduce families to these great books and more, setting them up for a lifetime loving stories together”.

Following the highly successful Teachers Reading Challenge, 2020 led by the OU and The Reading Agency, this new stage in the OU’s Reading for Pleasure programme is about supporting parents and carers at home. A free online course on reading for pleasure is being developed for parents with the charity Coram Beanstalk, due summer 2021 – the course will be available on the OU’s free learning site, OpenLearn.

The films can be watched in advance via the YouTube links below:

Book Chat: Reading to your Child One Fox
Book Chat: Reading to your Child The House that Once Was
Book Chat: Reading to your Child  The Same Inside

WEBINAR: Sharing the pleasure: the role of talk in reading  

Tuesday 20 October, 20:00 – 21:00

This OU webinar is free and open to educators, librarians, parents and others interested in supporting young people develop the reading habit. The Book Chat crew, Teresa Cremin, Ben Harris and Richard Charlesworth will be joined by the children’s author Smriti Hall (TBC) and Rumenar Atkar, a mum and primary school librarian. The session will include research and practice insights, strategies to enrich informal book talk at home and school, and book recommendations that get everyone talking.

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