A ‘Rolling Stone’ gathers no moss

By Margaret Allen, Strategic Education Manager

According to an old proverb; ‘A rolling stone gathers no moss.’ And in more recent times, it is the rock band, the Rolling Stones, that we have to thank for being ‘free to do what we want’…

So as the UK prepares to celebrate #librariesday on Saturday 6th February, I’m on a personal mission to encourage primary teachers to give children even greater reading freedom and in doing so, help ensure that they ‘gather no moss’ when it comes to reading development.

Budgetary constraints and spending cuts remain common topics in the staff room; and we all know how these impact on our ability to continually invest in new books and reading support materials. However, the local library is a rich and largely untapped resource where a vast and varied bank of books is widely available – for free!

What’s more, with Accelerated Reader offering over 28,000 book quizzes, it’s also highly likely that children can read almost any book from the library and be able to complete the accompanying quiz on it afterwards. In doing so, you’re able to increase the choice and availability of books, whilst at the same time monitoring and supporting their progress using a tried and tested school-wide reading system.

Screenshot of the Advanced Search on AR BookFinder

AR BookFinder has an Advanced Search function to help your children locate appropriate books

As a wholly independent reading programme which combines a love of page turning with the reward of quiz-based technology, Accelerated Reader gives you absolute freedom over book choice which then gives children the opportunity to seek out books that they want to read (as opposed to choosing only from a predefined scheme).

The Accelerated Reader programme is also supported by www.ARbookfind.co.uk which allows parents, teachers and pupils to search for books which have an associated quiz but also match this to a desired reading ability and age. Why not encourage parents to use the free resource and build a book bag online, which can then be taken to the local library as a pre-prepared list of books to borrow?

Ultimately, as primary teachers we want children to enjoy reading but we also need to ensure they make progress and meet age-related expectations before heading on to Secondary education. By giving them greater choice they are more likely to discover a genre they like to read for pleasure, which makes them more likely to consume much more content. We could assume that this will positively correlate with progress – but with Accelerated Reader and STAR Assessments, there are no assumptions. At any moment in time you can know the exact reading ability of every child and determine whether they are ready to move on to more challenging books.

Importantly, these benefits do not come at the expense of additional time from you as a teacher. Instead, the Accelerated Reader programme gathers the valuable data and insight as a by-product of reading for pleasure. So it doesn’t matter how many rolling stones you have in your class, you can be confident that they will not be gathering any moss – and having fun in the process!

Scan of the CILIP Update magazine feature on the Boulevard Academy

Looking for inspiration? Boulevard Academy in Hull has some great ideas on how to build a culture for reading by working in partnership with the local library – find out more here.


Margaret Allen
Strategic Education Manager

Margaret Allen is Strategic Education Manager for Primary schools at Renaissance Learning. She uses practical experience from her time teaching in primary classrooms to help teachers across the UK to get the most out of Accelerated Reader.



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