Twitter is great for making you stop and think sometimes. Yesterday Rob Smith (Literacy shed supremo) posted a tweet that really struck a chord with me.
It made me stop and think about reading and what we offer children in our school. Do we offer a gruel or a gourmet reading experience for our pupils. I found myself time-travelling back to my youth and thinking about what made me a reader. A formative part in that for me as a child was non-fiction. Non-fiction was for me where I found my ‘Reading for Pleasure’
I would spend hours poring over the one book that I owned, given to me by my Aunty Pat for Christmas in 1979 or maybe 1980.
First question should be “What the hell were you doing Aunty Pat?” It was terrifying. It was also utterly brilliant. I read that book so many times it eventually fell apart. (I did cry)
It was a brilliant non-fiction book (I appreciate now that there is quite a lot of fiction in this book)…endlessly re-readable, loads and loads to learn about. It was also glorious to look at, sumptuous in the detail and fantastically illustrated. It was the total package. I can’t even begin to count the hours I spent lay on my bed reading it, lost in its pages, savouring its detail.
It was only replaced when my Dad came home with a set of battered Encyclopaedia Britannica, they then became my go to books for exploring and finding stuff out.
This made me stop and think about two things really. The first was our school offer for reading.
What reading experiences/ choices are we offering children?
Do we have the books that children can wallow in like a warm bath?
Do we have the books that let children explore and find out stuff driven by their own interests?
(Or is the reading material particularly non-fiction controlled and merely used as an extended comprehension exercise.)
There are absolutely fantastic non-fiction books out there…
The question is do we let children explore non-fiction in their reading choices in the way we do with fiction? I tried to come up with a list of what our offer beyond fiction looks like in the library. I’m sure people could add other ideas and suggestions.
- Short stories
- Graphic novels
- True-life stories
- Theatre and football programmes
- Recipe books / cards
- Travel brochures
- Food packaging
- Letters and postcards
It also made me think about how we use non-fiction in school.
Is it controlled? Do we only read non-fiction when we want to find out a key thing?
I’ve seen comments that talked about only accessing non-fiction on the web, where children search for what they need to find out. Sadly this denies children experiencing the beauty and wonder that a crafted non-fiction book provides.
My experience of non-fiction is different I know lots of stuff, not because I had to know it but because I found it in a brilliant non-fiction books. Interests were sparked by stumbling on something as I immersed myself in the pages.
This led me to try to think of the main purposes for reading. So far I have these five. If you have any more please add to my list…
Purposes for Reading
- Read to learn something new
- Read to make us think
- Read to be entertained
- Read to be inspired
- Read to inform
- Reading to help us understand others better (from Anne Thompson @ALibraryLady)
- reading is to help us understand ourselves (Courtesy of Teresa Cremin)
So finally the big question?
What is your schools Reading offer?
Give the question ten minutes, it’s worth it.