How do you promote reading for pleasure?
Scott shares how it starts with the reader. At a young age, we must try to engage our children or pupils. We have the power to ignite their passion.
When I was at primary school, I felt uninspired by books, mainly because I couldn’t read fluently until around 8 and the tattered copies of ‘Bangers and Mash’ or ‘Biff and Chip’ didn’t hold my attention for long. However, in Year 3 I remember being read the story ‘Walkabout’ by James Vance Marshall, which followed the journey of two lost children in the Australian outback who are helped by an Aborginal teen. For some reason, the teacher’s tone and pace drew me into this world of snakes, extreme heat and the feeling of being abandoned. Despite the book having been written in 1959, it felt fresh to me in 1995.
Another book that I vividly remember is Jeremy James: ‘Elephants Don’t Sit on Cars’. To me, this mischievous boy was everything I wanted in a lead character: funny, quick witted and curious. Again, the manner in which our teacher, the fabulous Mrs Kirby, read the book made it even better as she guided us down the paths of humour and mishaps adeptly. Having recently repurchased the books, I wonder if I can do them justice with my own class.
These two positive memories shaped my journey through school as I then made it my mission to discover books that hooked me, such as the ‘Famous Five’ ( I could never get into the ‘Secret Seven’), ‘Goosebumps’ and ‘Animorphs’. Finally, going into GCSEs and then A-Levels, I began to devour classical literature and seek out more challenging texts, including ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, ‘Huckleberry Finn’ and ‘Great Expectations’.
For me, it is vital that a classroom has a rich and varied collection of books to inspire, tempt and satisfy every reader under your care, whether they are ‘reluctant’ readers or a bona fide bookworm. This means accessing sites which provide up-to-date reviews and news on the latest children’s literature, such as Books for Topics, The Library Lady Blog or Reading for Pleasure. It is also worth following avid readers and authors on Twitter or Instagram as often they provide unique insight and a different perspective to your own. Of course, not every child wants to read relentlessly or always dive into the book corner but it is never a wasted resource to provide the option. Ultimately, you must enjoy reading as well to convey each story as best you can and that also means pre-reading texts to find those voices and adapt your pacing as needed.
Your enthusiasm is infectious. Do you remember that monotonous story told by the teacher who didn’t care? Neither do I.