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February 2016

Feature series: SR in the Curriculum

(28 January 2016)

In support of the priority to encourage socially responsible graduates, Humanities provides funding to course leaders through the annual Social Responsibility in the Curriculum competition. The aim is for Humanities students to be encouraged to think how their enthusiasm for their subject can communicate, connect or be relevant beyond the immediate demands of their course.

Each issue we will be featuring a project which has benefited from the competition. This issue, we introduce you to Dr Thea Cameron-Faulkner’s Book Buddies project.

Dr Cameron-Faulkner is running a project to provide one-on-one shared book reading sessions to primary school children. The Book Buddies project brings together final year students studying Linguistics and English Language and young children who are not read to regularly at home. The students will visit local primary schools in Manchester throughout semester one and spend an hour of dedicated reading time with the children. 

The students have been trained in dialogic reading methods and will use these skills to read with their buddy. This one-on-one time will provide the children with a rich literacy experience which in turn could help to develop their language and literacy skills. Students will record their experience in their research diary.

This project will provide the students with the chance to gain first-hand experience in the range of language skills found in children of primary school age. In addition, the students will be engaging with the local community, providing what is hoped to be an invaluable experience for both book buddies and the children. At the end of the semester the students will share their findings with teachers at the schools, as well as with their course colleagues.

Dr Cameron-Faulkner said: “There is a strong correlation between shared book reading (i.e. reading picture books to a child) and language development. Many children engage in this activity with their parents on a regular basis in the home, but not all. The aim of the proposed project Book Buddies is to provide 1-1 shared book reading for children who are not read to regularly at home, and/or exhibit poor language skills. We predict that the scheme will have a direct effect on the children’s ability to engage with book reading and their language skill.”

It is hoped that the project will continue in the future and that previous student participants can be invited to come back to the University to help train up the new volunteers.