As I’m rather strapped for time at the moment, finding inspiration for a blog post is always a challenge, so children’s book week feels a little like someone’s just dropped a gift in my lap.
Reading for pleasure is something I did without knowing it was a ‘thing’. I was lucky that I was brought up in a family full of readers, I had parents that read to me and attended a school that truly valued reading and I genuinely desperately wanted to read to access these magical worlds that the adults around me seemed to enjoy so much.
Bettelheim & Zelan (1982) wrote the book “On Learning to Read“, in which there is a chapter entitled “The Magic of Reading” – and I completely agree, it is magical. When I think back to the first time I could get my teeth into real book, a book with meaning and real stories, it felt truly magical.
In the Chapter, Bettelheim & Zelan write about the justifications we give children for why they need to learn to read. We tell them it’s a skill they need, we tell them it’s useful and important. But quite simply, what child honestly is motivated by the skills they will need in the distant land of adulthood? They don’t. Children are motivated by curiosity, enjoyment and excitement – and in the context of reading, all of this can be fed by meaningful, well written children’s books.
The idea of reading for pleasure is something that does seem to get a little lost with the focus of phonics. Phonics programmes provide easy ways for schools and parents to choose books that are at the correct level for early readers and I have seen schools that have ability banded books right the way through their primary school. To me, this is just a little depressing. Sure, have books that children can read independently, but give them books to take home and read with their parents, read a book as a class, celebrate reading in your classroom by talking about the book YOU are reading.
There are many children who are not as fortunate as I was, who don’t grow up in a house full of readers. We can’t change that, what we can do is give them the resources to develop their love of reading for themselves, give the parents the support to find the literature that they can read with their child and show our passion to the children. Show children the magic of reading, and they will want to read. Passion for reading is infectious, and one of the most wonderful bugs a child can catch.
Finding high quality books:
The UKLA book awards are voted for by students and teachers, so you’re guaranteed to find some high quality texts in there!