Amazing Readers

In this Amazing Readers story we learn how schools in Italy are spreading the love of reading using Pearson English Readers.

We spoke to the Director of Studies of Kids Can school, Vanessa Hartson-Walker, about their goals, the implementation of the Amazing Readers library and the feedback from students, parents and teachers. 

Encouraging a love of reading and English at Kids Can

Kids Can is a private language school with the mantra inspiring minds, shaping futures. There’s one in the East ‘Appio-Latino’ and another near the Vatican in the ‘Aurelio’ district in Rome.

Vanessa Hartson-Walker, and staff wanted to encourage a love of reading among their students. The Amazing Readers program was the perfect fit.

Kids share the benefits of reading
Children from IC A Manzoni Rome discussing the benefits of Amazing Readers and describing what reading means to them. Ideas included – “reading is my superpower” and “reading is food for thought”.

The Amazing Readers program is organized by Pearson Italia with the patronage of the British Embassy in Rome. The aim – to get children to become lifelong readers and lifelong lovers of English. 

It uses Pearson English Readers and Pearson Kids Readers to spread enthusiasm for reading for students of all ages. Readers are world-famous stories rewritten for students learning English. They feature both non-fiction and fiction books, including fairy tales to help teach the importance of morals and values. There are also adaptations of popular stories from Marvel and Disney.

All of the stories are carefully graded to different levels that align to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the Global Scale of English (GSE). The extra audio and visual activities are designed to help with confidence and fluency in both speaking and writing.

As part of the program a library of these Readers was set up at Kids Can, allowing the children to take out books according to their reading ability. 

How Kids Can use Readers to inspire a love of reading

Kids reading in class
Students at Kids Can read James and the Giant Peach (Pearson English Reader Level 6) in class.

Every lesson at Kids Can, teachers dedicate approximately half an hour to reading and writing. This includes focusing on comprehension as well as a number of different activities and project work. 

To support them – teachers have access to the Amazing Readers’ website (currently in Italian) where there are a number of tools to help enhance learning. These include a visual book report, mini lapbook, reading log and bookmarks. 

What’s more, there are themed days so learners can connect further with the stories and characters they discover in class. 

To encourage students to read for pleasure (rather than feeling forced to do so) they make it easy for students to check out books from the library themselves. Afterwards, the children talk about what they liked and disliked about the story and whether they would recommend it to someone else.

There is also an audio app available so they can listen along to the stories as they read. 

How the Amazing Readers Program improves student performance and engagement

Students during a reading project
A group of motivated students at IC Via F Laparelli Rome.

Vanessa feels the Amazing Readers Reading project has had a positive effect on students’ performance and has seen their vocabulary in English increase. She believes one of the reasons for this is that the students can download the audio for free. This means they can keep listening to the story even after they handed the book back – helping reinforce the vocabulary they’ve learned. 

She’s also noticed a positive effect on student engagement throughout the whole school. They enjoy the variety of titles to choose from and the Marvel Graded English Readers resonated particularly well due to the popularity of the films at the time.

She also believes that the project has increased student engagement in her own class. Learners completed all extra activities and participated in staff directed pictures and videos. They were also further motivated and rewarded by earning reading prizes.

Shakespeare reading project
Here’s a project related to Shakespeare’s Hamlet (Pearson English Reader Level 3). Students at IC Pacifici – Sezze Latina, explored common themes and characters and even created a model of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.

Teacher feedback on the Amazing Readers project

“Once they found out there’s extra material, free material they can use… they find that very useful.”

The teachers at Kids Can are interested in incorporating the Amazing Readers project into their lessons because they understand the impact of reading on student learning, says Vanessa.

She believes that teachers appreciate the fact that Pearson is ‘technologically ahead’ and is giving importance to extensive reading. 

The teachers at the school particularly appreciate the extra materials. Vanessa says, ‘once they found out there’s extra material, free material they can use… they find that very useful.’

Parent feedback on the Amazing Readers project 

“One of the reasons they send their kids to Kids Can is because we have reading libraries.”

The Amazing Readers program has a good response from parents as well as teachers, says Vanessa. They’ve actually said that ‘one of the reasons they send their children to Kids Can is because we have reading libraries.’

Reading is something children and parents can experience together. Some parents have even said they have read the book so many times they know it word for word!

A final comment from Vanessa 

“The library should be the central part of any school.”

Vanessa was very pleased Kids Can took part in the project. She has found that the Readers have a positive effect on both student engagement and performance. Not only that but the teachers and the parents are also happy. 

And will they continue participating in the project? Yes, of course. Why? Because Vanessa believes ‘the library should be the central part of any school.’

In fact, the project has been so successful other schools in Italy have also become involved!

If you are interested in becoming involved in the Amazing Readers project contact your local office

You can also find out more information about the Amazing Readers project and how to encourage students to read inside and outside of the classroom on the International Schools community blog

Finally, check out our reading strategies checklist to compliment your reading projects or take part in our Summer Reading Camp.

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