“So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out in the world like ships on the sea”
– Roald Dahl, Matilda
In Early Years and Foundation stages, being read to by parents is key. I know a number of teachers, and they say the biggest thing they notice when reading with a child is whether they are read to at home. In their experience, a child not only has a better vocabulary and can read to a higher level, but reading and being read with also helps with their writing and speech.
One of my enduring memories of school is being read Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in class. This was our class treat – at the end of every day, the last half an hour was being read a few pages of this book. Reading a treat, I hear you cry? It was indeed, and we all loved every minute of it. Later on in Year Six, this extended to a Kensuke’s Kingdom audiobook which we read along to, and enjoyed as a class – even those of us who weren’t as in love with reading as I was.
What I’m urging teachers is to try and get children to see reading as a treat (I know many of you probably do this already!). We went on trips to the library and bookshops, had a Scholastic Book Fair visit our school every term, and had an extensively stocked school library (complete with signed Harry Potter poster which I was a big fan of).
Perhaps organise book swaps with students, or for your Book Fair to come more regularly. Make the extra effort on World Book Day and give prizes of books, or try to take even ten minutes out of your day to read as a class. At your school fair, host a book stall.
Maybe even go the extra mile, and do as an American teacher has done in her school, and turn your classroom into the world of a book. She has chosen Hogwarts, filling the room with quotes, old furniture and Potter-related items such as brooms, stuffed animals and potions bottles. You could choose Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and have a quiet room decorated as the luscious chocolate room. Or perhaps transform your classroom into a desert island, to make your class truly feel like Michael as he washes ashore.
The possibilities are endless, and the enjoyment felt by the children will make the time and effort worthwhile. To ignite in children a passion for reading is one that will often be for a lifetime.