Reading Together® programme

Reading Together® is a gold standard, research-based workshop programme which helps parents/whānau to provide effective support for their children's reading (and thereby also supports teachers in their classroom programmes).

The programme has been shown to raise children's reading achievement in a significant and sustained manner, and to improve relationships between children and parents, and between parents and teachers (the original research was a randomised, controlled trial - the gold standard used by US federal authorities) [1, 2]. It has been successfully implemented by teachers in New Zealand since its development in 1982 by Jeanne Biddulph MNZM, and teachers find that the programme is practical and manageable [3, 4].

The resources for the programme can be ordered here.

Reading Together® programme
Reading Together®

Quotes

[Former] Associate Education Minister Dr Pita Sharples credits the programme's whānau focus for its success. "There are other programmes out there but the thing about this one is that the families are involved." [5]  "[Reading Together®] is receiving absolutely glowing feedback." [6]
Warwick Elley, Emeritus Professor of Education: "I was working closely with Jeanne Biddulph in Christchurch [in the early 1980s] when she undertook her thesis on Reading Together, and was impressed with its impact in that study. The notion of helping parents to help their own children with a series of workshops was a delightfully new approach to a long-standing problem, but many were sceptical about whether parents would come, whether they would stay the course and whether they would have the patience to implement the suggestions made. Thankfully the critics were proved unduly pessimistic, and the continuing success of the programme, during the period when the Biddulphs were funding it themselves and after [Sir] Pita Sharples saw its potential, and gave it the thumbs up for Government funding, was a well-justified reward for Jeanne's insight and admirable efforts." [7]
The Reading Together® programme is "the closest thing to a silver bullet we've ever seen", says Manurewa Central School Principal Dr Laurie Thew [5]. "We've found it outstanding. It not only helps with reading, but this intervention also improves the rest of a child's schooling. The relationships between homes and school improve, and parents certainly appreciate the support." [8]
Liz Horgan MNZM, Principal of St Joseph's School Otahuhu reports that: "We have found Reading Together to be the most effective home/school programme we have run. ... It is truly a wonderful programme to be involved in and the feedback we have received from parents is heart-warming, humbling and always extremely positive." [9]
An excerpt from a 2014 New Zealand Government Release: "Research has identified Reading Together as a low-cost, high-impact programme with strong evidence of effectiveness. For example, children have gained a full year in their reading level within 12 weeks of starting the programme." [10]

Quotes about the Reading Together® Project

NOTE: The Reading Together® Project is a collaboration between the NZ Ministry of Education, schools, community libraries and the National Library, and "priority is given to: Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako (including students in any of years 1–8 and where there is ECE participation, including pre-school children); and to approved community-based providers".

An excerpt from an independent report on the 2012 Reading Together® Project:

"The Reading Together programme has had a profound effect, not just in improving reading levels for a particular child but in involving entire whānau in implementing better ways of relating to their tamariki and facilitating their learning. ... Such changes are remarkable for a four workshop programme."[11]
SOURCE: Report PDF is available here.

An excerpt from an independent report on the 2013 Reading Together® Project:

"... the 2013 Reading Together Project, through supporting schools to implement the Reading Together Programme, continues to make a real difference in attitudes toward reading and consequently in reading achievement. It is instrumental in helping to break the negative cycle of disengagement with reading that exists in many whānau. ... Schools reported some dramatic improvements in reading achievement." [12]
SOURCE: Report PDF is available here.

An excerpt from an independent analysis of the 2014 Reading Together® Project:

"This report examines the feedback provided by caregivers and teachers on changes in achievement and engagement for 479 students whose caregivers participated in the Reading Together workshops. ... 97% of the responses attributed gains in either achievement or engagement with reading to caregiver participation in the Reading Together workshops." [13]
SOURCE: Analysis PDF is available here.

An excerpt from an independent report on the 2014 Reading Together® Project:

"Schools reported some dramatic improvements in reading achievement and the gains in reading achievement flowed on into other areas, particularly in writing. ... The most inspirational benefit of the Reading Together Project is that it provides a basis for a lasting generational change in attitudes to reading."[14]
SOURCE: Report PDF is available here.
Sir Pita Sharples and families who have participated in Reading Together® at Manurewa Central School.

Sir Pita Sharples and families who have participated in Reading Together® at Manurewa Central School (Auckland). Photo used with the permission of Dr Laurie Thew (Principal) and Piera Tombolato (Photographer).

Reading Together®

Reading Together® programme

Key Points

Reading Together® Logo

Reading Together®:

  • enables parents to learn sound and specific ways of helping with reading at home
  • is a programme comprising 4 workshops over 7 weeks, with each workshop lasting 1 hour and 15 minutes
  • focuses on an area of learning (i.e. reading) that all parents recognise as being important
  • is practical, user friendly and manageable for teachers, librarians, parents/whānau and children
  • enables teachers, parents/whānau and librarians to work together in informed and collaborative ways
  • develops more positive relationships between children, parents/whānau, teachers and community librarians
  • enables teachers, parents and librarians to support children's reading more effectively than any of them can achieve if they are working independently of each other
  • is effective when it is implemented as described in the fully-scripted Workshop Leader's Handbook
  • has a sound theoretical and research basis.

Reading Together® provides effective support for all children & their parents/whānau i.e.

  • children who are struggling with reading, or reluctant to read, or reading competently
  • children from junior primary to junior secondary school levels
  • children and parents from diverse language/literacy, cultural, educational and socio-economic backgrounds

Primary purpose of Reading Together®:

  • To help all children to become keen competent readers who have the range of language and literacy abilities they need to function confidently and effectively within their communities and wider society.

Reading Together®

Learn More

Getting Started:
A FAQ about getting started with Reading Together® is available here.

Early Reading Together® and Reading Together®:
A PDF comparing Early Reading Together® and Reading Together® is available here.

Reading Together® at secondary school level:
A Presentation in PDF is available here.

Blog

Our Blog contains posts about Reading Together®, including the Reading Together® Community. Learn More

Inquiry into engaging parents in the education of their children

Best Practice

The Reading Together® programme is a best practice example of an approach that enables parents and communities to support their children's learning.

For further information (including effective strategies for engaging parents, families, whānau, aiga, and communities in formal education), please see Jeanne Biddulph's Submission on the Parliamentary Inquiry into engaging parents in the education of their children.

Reading Together® programme

History of Reading Together®

A history of Reading Together® in New Zealand is available here.


References

  1. Biddulph, J. (1983). A group programme to train parents of children with reading difficulties to tutor their children at home. MA Research Report. University of Canterbury, Christchurch.
  2. Biddulph, J & Tuck, B. (1983). Assisting parents to help their children with reading at home. Paper presented to the New Zealand Association for Research in Education. Wellington.
  3. Biddulph, J. (1993, May). Teacher-parent partnership to support children's reading development. Paper presented to the NZ Reading Association Annual Conference, Christchurch.
  4. Biddulph, J. & Allott, J. (2006). Reading Together: A programme  which enables parents to help their children with reading at home - Overview. Reading Forum NZ, Vol 21, No 3, 20-27.
  5. Henry, D. (2012). Results taken as read. Manukau Courier, 28 June 2012.
  6. 30 January 2013 Debate on Prime Minister's Statement. Quoting Sir Pita Sharples, who said about Reading Together®: "This is a whānau-centred literacy programme, which is receiving absolutely glowing feedback. It not only supports children but also provides skills for parents and whānau members to support them participating in their children’s education."
  7. Elley, Warwick (2016) Letters to the Editor of Education Aotearoa, April 2016. NOTE: Warwick Elley has an outstanding national and international reputation for his scholarship on educational improvement in literacy. He also has experience in leading international surveys of school achievement.
  8. Ewart, J. (2012). No silver bullets in education - but Reading Together is close! Booksellers New Zealand: Book News, 16 August 2012.
  9. Horgan, L. (2012). Reading Together programme. Good News & The News (Broadsheet of Good Practice in Integrated Schools), Vol 32.
  10. New Zealand Government Release (15 May 2014) Literacy programme to benefit more communities.
  11. Madden, F. & Madden, R. (2013) Reading Together Project 2012 - Analysis of feedback and of workshop attendance. Independent report commissioned by the NZ Ministry of Education and completed in February 2013. The authors report that: "Feedback from schools and participants is uniformly enthusiastic and records dramatic improvement in reading levels and the enthusiasm of the learner for reading." [p.24]
  12. Madden, F. & Madden, R. (2014) Report on Feedback from the Reading Together Workshops run by the Reading Together Project schools in 2013. Independent report commissioned by the NZ Ministry of Education and completed in February 2014.
  13. Madden, F. & Madden, R. (2015) Reading Together Project 2014 - Analysis of feedback on changes in student achievement and engagement. Independent analysis commissioned by the NZ Ministry of Education and completed in February 2015.
  14. Madden, F. & Madden, R. (2015) Report on Feedback from the Reading Together Workshops run by Reading Together Project schools in 2014. Independent report commissioned by the NZ Ministry of Education and completed in February 2015.

About Us

The Biddulph Group provides professional support and research-based resources for principals, teachers, early childhood educators, librarians, parents/whānau and children.

Our Work

Our work supports the following areas:
» language and literacy education
» mathematics education
» science education

Quote

The Reading Together® programme is "the closest thing to a silver bullet we've ever seen", says Manurewa Central School Principal Dr Laurie Thew.


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