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Professor David Waugh standing in front of a whiteboard holding two books he has written.

On World Book Day, Thursday 7 March, Professor David Waugh, from our School of Education, discusses his approach to how he goes about getting children engaged with reading.

What is your research about?

My research relies on analyses of established research, and case studies derived from extensive time spent in schools. I work in schools to develop children’s enthusiasm for reading, using the novels I have written as starting points for a range of reading, writing and oracy activities.

I have also written two books with groups of children, both of which are published and available through online providers. I have developed case studies, which are a feature throughout my writing, from experience of school visits and discussions held with students and teachers.

For the last four years, we have run workshops for reading volunteers in schools for the Open University Coram Beanstalk Reading for Pleasure initiative.

We place emphasis on creating a literate environment in which children’s literature is a central feature.

How do you hope your research findings will help educators to develop enthusiastic and capable readers?

Teachers can have a profound influence on children’s reading behaviour and attitudes to literature. Whether it’s to broaden children’s knowledge and understanding, or encourage reading for pleasure, reading in the classroom is becoming an increasing priority.

A wide range of research shows that children who read for pleasure are likely to be more successful in reading and across the curriculum. It is important to highlight the importance of developing children’s enjoyment of reading alongside the development of word recognition and reading comprehension.

What is your inspiration for returning to schools to help children with their reading?

Over the years, I have written extensively on Primary English, including on phonics, spelling, grammar and punctuation, language development and oracy. I like visiting schools as ultimately I need to keep up to date and have regular experience of doing the things I expect of my student teachers. However, I am passionate about engaging children with literature and I love teaching.

Find out more:

We are one of the leading Schools of Education in the UK and ranked in the top 100 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2023. 

We aim to expand the frontiers of educational knowledge and to inspire our students to become the future architects of an equitable and sustainable world. Our students go on to successful careers in a wide range of different sectors. 

Feeling inspired? Visit our School of Education webpages to find out more about studying with us. 

Durham University is a top 100 world university. In the QS World University Rankings 2024, we were ranked 78th globally.