Chatterbooks is an extracurricular reading initiative that aims to increase a child’s motivation to read by providing schools with tools and resources to encourage reading for pleasure. The intervention developed for this trial consisted of nine weekly one hour sessions where the pupils read and discussed an age-appropriate book. The programme was delivered by trained graduates to Year 7 pupils who had not reached a secure Level 4 in English at the end of Key Stage 2.
Chatterbooks was developed by the Reading Agency as an extracurricular activity, organised in local libraries on Saturday mornings by volunteers. The sessions are intended for six to twelve-year-olds and attendance is voluntary. For the purposes of this evaluation, the Chatterbooks programme was altered significantly to test its impact in a more structured and formalised school environment. A variation called Chatterbooks Plus was delivered alongside the Chatterbooks programme. In this intervention, fifteen minutes of a sixty minute session were replaced with dialogic reading where children read aloud and were offered explicit prompts.
The target population for this evaluation was pupils in secondary schools in an area of the Midlands accessible from Coventry University. The programme was delivered by trained graduates at Coventry University who had received training from the Reading Agency and Professor Clare Wood (for the dialogic reading component). Intervention delivery took place from April to June 2013.
Chatterbooks aims to encourage reading for pleasure. It is assumed that this translates into an improvement in reading ability. This evaluation set out to measure what impact the scheme had on reading ability as measured by the GL Assessment New Group Reading Test.
The evaluation was funded by the Education Endowment Foundation as one of 23 projects focused on literacy catch-up at the primary-secondary transition. It was one of four programmes funded with a particular focus on reading comprehension.