On visiting a School in South Wales, I was introduced to two boys who were reading the opening paragraphs of Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. They were totally engrossed in the depth of language and eager to share their understanding of the text. They were thoroughly enjoying an old classic and took great pleasure in sharing their experience.
In my own School, it is more than obvious that pupils perform better when they enjoy reading. One child is able to recite ‘Wind in the Willows’, with fluency and joy. He can often be seen with a book in his hand.
My favourite author is Charles Dickens and my favourite book is ‘Great Expectations’. To see Pip develop his knowledge of the world often involved an education centred on reading. Through opportunity he was able to succeed. It is this opportunity that should be shared with all pupils! We all know that Pip was a flawed character but it is the journey of his life that inspires the reader to turn each page.
Jaquelin Wilson states quite clearly,
‘Enjoy yourself whilst you read’
And in my opinion it is essential to achieve this passion for reading within a classroom and in the home. Harry Potter and his friends brought a whole generation of pupils into the world of books. In many ways, J.K.Rowling has inspired children to enjoy books, long books with difficult vocabulary. She has created a whole new group of friends for children. Despite the film franchise being completed children still enjoy sharing their knowledge of the books.
Honore de Balzac stated,
‘Reading brings us unknown friends’
Unknown at the first turn of a page but best friends by the end! One of my favourite extracts from a book is again from my favourite author (I apologise for the bias in this post). When the young Ebenezer Scrooge is alone in the school house it is his friends ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and ‘Ali Baba’ that keep him company.
C.S.Lewis once said that we read so that we are not alone. In many ways this is true but should reading be restricted to books? Many parents during my career have stated that they can not get their child to read. The reply is not unique and is used by many teachers,
‘Reading can be many different things, it could be a magazine, a newspaper, a comic. It doesn’t have to mean a whole novel, they could read extracts from a book…..’
And the key question,
‘Do you encourage your child to read about their interests?’
Not all pupils will enjoy fiction, not all pupils will believe that they can read yet they enjoy picking up a magazine. The point I am trying to make is that sometimes it isn’t always about a novel. Boys and girls are often full of facts about Dinosaurs or animals and they thoroughly enjoy sharing their knowledge with others.
In the modern age, has reading been left behind?
I am a great fan of cartoons. In a world of gadgets and devices, is there room for reading?
Yes, yes and yes! More than ever, reading is an essential aspect of life! The internet provides access to many types of reading materials and even books! I am not advertising apps or sites but I’m sure that you are aware that the old classics are available for free! When I explained this to the boy reading ‘Frankenstein’ his eyes became alive with anticipation. The web has made reading more accessible to many households. Modern libraries should be celebrated for not only lending books but for providing free access to the web. One of my favourite sites is ‘Oxford Owl’. The ebooks are wonderful and accessible from home. Many reading book schemes provide this opportunity. Rapid Readers is another example.
As mentioned in my previous post on writing, the Big Write is a scheme that has a definite impact on standards. At the heart of the writing scheme is reading. All genres of writing should begin with an effective model that is shared with the class. It is the reading that leads to an improvement in the writing.
Reading should be at the heart of every activity! Reading is the key to improving literacy but more importantly, reading provides us with knowledge, empathy for others, lessons on life and yes, new friends!
In the words of Dr Seuss,
“Be awesome! Be a book nut!”