Shared Reading

Craigdhu Primary took part in the Scottish Children’s Book Awards 2013 through a shared reading project. Their main aim behind the project was to increase pupils' enjoyment in reading. Here's how they got on...

The set-up:

Our 28 Primary 7 children paired up with their Primary 1 buddies. They enjoy anything that involves working together as they are all very fond of their buddy so this ensured the project started off on the right note.


Time frame:

Preparation began in September but the actual project lasted for the month of November to coincide with Book Week Scotland. At the end of the month the P1s took home the shortlisted books to share at home with their families after an intense month working on picture books.

Getting started:

It all began when East Dunbartonshire hosted a training session which was delivered by Scottish Book Trust. Teachers were shown a variety of picture books including the ones to be voted on. Our teachers who attended the training session were so enthusiastic about the potential of working with picture books that the head teacher decided to buy in some new titles for the school.

Drama – an added extra:

In October a drama specialist from Love Drama visited the school to encourage the P7s to think carefully about how to read a picture book aloud when reading to younger children and to help them bring the stories to life. The P7s enjoyed working with the specialist and trying out different voices and expressions as well as reacting in different ways to scripts of the three story books that would be voted on later on.

Preparing the P7s for their Shared Reading responsibilities:

In November, the different titles that were bought in were shared with P7 with the focus being on how to read aloud. The school was keen to take some time to explore picture books with the older children before introducing the specific shortlisted books. Questioning skills were taught along with predicting and summarising. They also worked on trying to relate the books to real life experience which would enable them to draw the younger children into a discussion and help spark their interest even more. The P7s and their teacher worked hard on this. The children then read the picture books to themselves and then to each other and then to their primary one buddy before the process was repeated with the shortlisted books. The selection of books bought was varied and included titles like I Want My Hat Back and This is Not My Hat both by Jon Klassen and There’s a Bird on my Head by Mo Willems.

The pupils’ perspective:

Ross in P7 was enthusiastic about the Shared Reading project because he doesn’t normally read aloud to an audience. He hasn’t read a picture book in a long time so enjoyed the experience. He was paired with Andy and Harris in P1. He asked them questions about the story and enjoyed the responses he got which led on to a deeper discussion. They were able to relate the books to their own life experiences. Ross’s favourite was Jumblebum by Chae Strathie and Ben Cort because, “it was one of those books I didn’t get bored of. I could read it again and again.” 

Max in P7 says, “I enjoy spending time with my P1 buddy Noah and sharing stories with him.”

Calum in P7 feels the project has changed his view of books - “I think it has made me more confident reading picture books” - and Tom from P7 says, “I didn’t realise picture books could be so funny.”

When P1 children were asked about reading the picture books with their buddies, they said they had great fun. Kara from P1 said, “I liked it because my buddy read carefully to me” and Mark from P1 said, “My favourite book was Jumblebum because Jumblebum goes into the washing machine and comes out as clean clothes. That was funny and my buddy used a funny voice.”

The staff perspective & project legacy:

This project has changed the view of staff regarding picture books. They are no longer seen as a resource only for the younger classes but are also useful tools for teaching about punctuation and grammar as well as development of plot and character. P7 have continued to explore picture books since the project ended. We have invested a lot into building up our picture books and will continue to develop this resource in the future.

To hear more about shared reading projects in schools, check out this great blog by another primary teacher, who explains. among other things, the benefits for older readers.

Read more Teachers & Librarians blogs about Creating a Reading Culture


Eilidh McLean

Eilidh McLean is a teacher at Craigdhu Primary School in East Dunbartonshire.