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Beyond the Reading Wars

Episode 2 of 2

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 29 May 2012

Michael Morpurgo - former Children's Laureate, writer, father, grandfather and ardent advocate for children's reading - explores how the seminal experience of learning to read has changed over the last 70 years. It is a subject close to his heart and one which he approaches with his customary curiosity and passionate engagement.

In June 2012, all Year One children in English primary schools will sit a compulsory new 'Phonics Screening Check'.

Meanwhile, authoritative studies show British ten year olds performing less well and expressing less enthusiasm for reading than many of their international peers.

In the first programme, Michael tried to square the circle between getting children reading and getting them to love reading.

2.Beyond the Reading Wars

In this second programme, Michael Morpurgo explores how the contemporary debate has been informed by teaching methods of the recent past- and is, in some ways, a reaction to them.

He hears from the influential teacher and author, Margaret Meek, now in her eighties, about her belief in letting children learn to read from "real books", and he challenges Julia Eccleshare, Children's Books Editor of The Guardian newspaper, on whether this method really worked for her own children.

He explores why learning to read has traditionally been a weather vane for wider classroom philosophies with the help of fellow children's author Michael Rosen.

Finally, he hears from the distinguished Cambridge neuroscientist, Usha Goswami, about how her research on dyslexia might help us understand what goes on in children's minds when they learn to read - and might even bring an end to the so-called 'Reading Wars'.

Producer : Beaty Rubens.


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