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Heacham Junior School

Extreme reading is the talk of Norfolk

Our schools were the talk of Norfolk when English Lead Mrs Chadderton was a guest on BBC Radio Norfolk, talking about our Extreme Reading challenge.

Extreme Reading was launched last year, before the first lockdown, as a way of making reading more fun and lively, to encourage a love of books and reading, but while normal school was shut down, it became a whole new imaginative and enjoyable way of learning.

“The challenge has been to engage families to have a creative reason to share and read stories – to get out and about, and read in places that are unusual, to enjoy stories wherever and whenever,” Mrs Chadderton told the radio station's breakfast show.

The resulting photos that parents sent in certainly showed that our pupils and their families rose to the challenge, with a range of funny and creative places to curl up with a favourite book.

“We've had families read stories sledging, in the middle of a building site as a house is being built, upside down hanging from rings, under sofas - it's extreme but always safe - reading to family members in other countries on Zoom, reading in extreme places and for extreme reasons,” she explained.

Extreme Reading was initially created to encourage boys, who tend to be less interested in reading, but Mrs Chadderton said how delighted she was with how everyone associated with the school had entered into the spirit of it.

“Language is all around us, we’re always absorbing it – think about how often you check your phone when you’re walking about, that’s reading,” she said. “It’s such an incredibly important life skill – we want to inspire a love of books and literature.”

And as she told presenter Chris Goreham, the challenge seems to have done what it set out to do, as so many children are still keeping up telling teachers about the unlikely and innovative ways in which they have been reading.

“We’re lucky to have such a supportive learning community in our schools, and home/school links have become even greater during lockdown learning,” she said. “The children keep telling us about what they're continuing to do, and showing us more pictures - anything that gets them reading is a bonus.”