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BookFun at BogForum

The Mary Foundation is set to participate in the book fair BogForum. BogForum is the ideal venue for The Foundation’s latest project, BookFun, which is all about developing children’s communication skills through a particular method of reading aloud. And although BookFun is geared towards preschools, it offers lots of inspiration to parents who simply enjoy reading with their children.

7 November 2012

Indeed, most parents have tried rushing through a bedtime story without being able to remember the storyline, or at least the details, afterwards. Many people may also have tried translating difficult words into everyday terminology based on the good intention that the child needs to be able to understand everything. But the stories allow for much more dialogue than traditional methods of reading aloud, and children do not find one word more difficult to learn than another – it is simply about using them. The children learn new words and concepts through interruptions, questions, conversations and play.

“We are participating in BogForum with the aim of making Danes aware of the fact that there is now specific material available that will strengthen preschool children’s communication skills. We also regard the fair as an opportunity to inspire Danish parents and grandparents to read in a more engaging way – both because it gives children a good understanding of the language and because it’s fun,” The Mary Foundation’s director Helle Østergaard explains.

At The Mary Foundation’s stand in the children’s area it will be possible to learn how to elaborate on and dramatise good words or to get as many words out of a drawing as possible, or simply get ten good tips on how to read with children in a more fun and engaging way, among other things.

BookFun is a pedagogical tool that The Mary Foundation – in collaboration with experts in the field – has developed for use in Danish preschools. BookFun is based on the dialogic reading method which has been proven by international research to have a well-documented effect on increasing children’s vocabulary and strengthening their communication skills and thus helping them to find their way into their community.

The follow-up research linked to BookFun shows the same positive results – the children’s communication skills are significantly improved, and the teachers find that the children become more confident at using the language and developing new friendships. The Obel Family Foundation is the financial partner for BookFun, which is one of The Mary Foundation’s initiatives aimed at combating social isolation.

The Mary Foundation has entered into a partnership with BogForum which makes it possible to present BookFun to all reading enthusiasts at this year’s book fair.

Preschools can order BookFun at www.læseleg.dk. The BookFun pack consists of four selected children’s books, a professional booklet, a DVD with instructions and booklets, and costs DKK 850.

Facts about BookFun

  • BookFun was developed by The Mary Foundation, comes under the Bullying and Well-being focus area, and has The Obel Family Foundation as its financial partner.
  • BookFun is based on the dialogic reading method, which involves reading aloud in small reading groups. The same book is read aloud several times and the adult asks the child questions along the way and relates what’s being read to the child’s daily life. Creative activities are then used to delve into the stories in more depth and use “good words”.

The follow-up research associated with BookFun

  • BookFun underwent a trial phase as part of a four-month pilot project that began in September 2011. A total of nine preschools in Brøndby, Odense and Aalborg took part in the pilot programme.
  • During the trial period, the project was closely followed by Kristine Jensen de López, a professor in developmental psychology at Aalborg University, who was responsible for the follow-up research.
  • Ninety-six randomly selected children aged between three and six took part in the follow-up research. Half of the children participated in BookFun, and the other half (the control group) had the books that were used in BookFun read aloud to them in the conventional way. In addition to this, the research is also based on 36 individual interviews with a total of 18 teachers who tested BookFun, as well as on observations of selected quiet children. This initiative has provided the most in-depth understanding of the effect of dialogic reading in Denmark to date.
  • The results show that the children who participated in the BookFun programme had developed significantly better communication skills in comparison with those children (the control group) who had simply had the same book read aloud to them in the traditional way.
  • The BookFun children had a better vocabulary of unfamiliar words and were better able to understand and explain the difficult words used in the BookFun books.
  • The BookFun children in the 3-4 year-old age group were also significantly better at naming new words quickly and fluently in comparison with the children in the control group – an ability which will have an influence on the children’s future reading skills. The better children are at understanding and using words in preschool, the better their reading skills are likely to be in the future.

The teachers indicated that they were very satisfied with BookFun and highlighted the following aspects as being among the project’s strengths:

  • BookFun fosters creative children and adults
  • BookFun creates the time, calmness and room for reading aloud with the children
  • BookFun improves the potential for social inclusion in the preschool
  • BookFun supports children with language difficulties
  • BookFun helps the quiet children to become more open and able to use the language – and it gives them self-confidence
  • BookFun gets the children to see each other, to develop new relationships with playmates, and to foster new communities
  • BookFun strengthens the relationship with the individual child

Experts associated with BookFun
Lecturer Dorthe Bleses, head of the Center for Child Language at the University of Southern Denmark
Lecturer Stig Broström, Danish School of Education (DPU), Aarhus University
Professor Anne Holmen, Centre for Internationalisation and Parallel Language Use, University of Copenhagen
Professor (with special responsibilities) Kristine Jensen de López, Institute of Communication, Aalborg University
Jette Løntoft, tutor in language
Former head of University College UCC, Peter Mikkelsen, Copenhagen

Read more at www.læseleg.dk.