During the Audio-visual Achievement in Literacy, Language and Learning (Availll) programme, pupils watch films with subtitles, based on popular children's books. They watch for about 10 minutes each period and do exercises such as checking words in dictionaries and reading the novel.
United States researcher Alice Killackey developed Availll. She said she brought it to New Zealand for peer review because the country was highly regarded for reading research.
Four Christchurch schools piloted the six-week programme in the first term this year with dramatic results.
The average reading age increased by 1.2 years
Children improved their scores, but the best results were for below-average readers and those from minority groups, she said.
"Children these days have built up strength in video but reading was their weakness, and I decided to use their strength to build up their weakness," the NZPA quoted, Killackey, as saying
Pupils improved fluency as well as literacy.
"Results have revealed it to be the fastest reading improvement for children ever recorded in research," said Killackey.
"We had a huge response from families, with kids saying they love going to school and can't be late because they will miss their reading class," she added.