2 April 2018

Reigniting a love of reading with Fiction Express

Ever since they were small we have read to all the Little Ones, and now that they are getting older it is great to see that they love reading and often pick up a book to chill out in their bedroom or on the sofa, rarely a day goes by where they do not do any reading at all.

Both girls took to reading like ducks to water on starting school and both have flown through their reading levels are are reading above expected levels, Little 1 is now reading the delights of Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton while her younger sister has started reading the Rainbow Fairy series books with a little help on the longer words.

Little 1 started Junior school in September and they have a big push on reading at the moment where they have to do silent reading for half an hour each morning while the register is taken etc, now I don't know about you but when you are 7/8 years old sitting still for half an hour and reading can be quite a challenge.

Little 1 enjoys reading at home but has told me that reading at school is hard as her classmates keep getting up to change their book or giggle and whisper across the table etc. She says it is really hard to concentrate for that long and often reads the same page of her book over and over or can't remember what she read the day before. As the term has gone on she has begun to lose her enthusiasm for reading and is choosing shorter and really easy books to take to school so she doesn't have to concentrate as much which is probably the exact opposite of what the school is trying to achieve and has even admitted she is bored of reading at school (thankfully she will still pick up a book at home).

Now everyone knows that reading plays a huge role in a child's future success and is a vital life skill, helping them access not only education but the world of employment too. It helps them develop emotionally, socially, intellectually and culturally and has been reported as more important to success than a family's socio-economic status.

Fiction Express recently got in touch with me to ask if we would like to try out their reading platform, available online to access from a PC, tablet or mobile, offline to download on an e-reader or tablet and printable to read too etc, to see what the girls thought and what I thought coming from an educational background.

Fiction Express is an educational platform designed to foster a love of reading and improve reading skills. Each half-term 3 new books are released and over the space of 5 weeks a new chapter is created each week. After reading the first chapter it is up to the readers to decide what happens next in the story by voting for one of three possibilities, the subsequent chapters will be written inline with the highest votes each week.

With stories written for the reading age ability of 6+, 8+ and 10+ there is something most children will be able to read and get absorbed in, some of Britain's best loved authors have been involved in writing for Fiction Express and created some captivating story lines and imaginative characters. As part of the panel you have access to all the past stories and can even look and see which of the three options you would have chosen for the following chapter even though voting has closed.

Little 2 at age 5 had a go at reading the age 6+ story but this time it was not the right story for her so we looked back through the previous stories and found one she liked, she was excited at reading (with a little help) each chapter and deciding how she would have liked the story to go and very pleased when two of the chapters went her way.

Little 1 on the other hand was happy to read all three stories and voted for each of her chosen options, as she was reading the current stories she had to wait until 3pm on a Friday for the next chapter to be released and got excited each time I told her I had had the email saying the new chapters were ready to read.

At the end of the 5 weeks and 5 chapters, a comprehension quiz is available to see how well you can recall the story and both girls were pleased that they scored full marks on the stories that they had read.

As part of the platform there is also the option to join a forum and chat with the author and others discussing the book and storyline and what you think might happen next.

You can join just as a parent or Fiction Express can be used as a fabulous teaching resource, teachers can register a whole class and track which books a child has read and whether they voted and what score they got on the comprehension test too.

As well as this each chapter comes with comprehensive teaching resources which can be downloaded, there are spelling activities, comprehension activities, drawing tasks and word recognition as well as many others related to the chapter that has just been read and the age range of the book. 

Little 1 in particular enjoyed reading the stories and being able to vote on what would happen next, discussing with me what she thought would happen and imagining how the story would go. Fiction Express certainly renewed her vigour for reading and finding excitement in books and also encouraged her to read other stories that she wouldn't have picked through choice.

Both the girls are great readers and love reading, just like me and Little 2 and 3 have a bedtime story everynight (Little 1 always listens in too while she is supposed to be reading her school book!). If the girls or I for that matter were struggling then I wouldn't hesitate to get some help, an English tutor perhaps, to ensure they stayed on track and didn't fall behind, after all reading is so important for everything.

N.B We had access to one Story cycle in return for this blog post.

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