Everyone is a reader … some just haven’t found their favourite book yet.
Abbotsholme’s English department is totally committed to this belief. Obviously, we love reading and want to share that passion and privilege with our students. We know that books can expose us to experiences which we may never have in person, thus widening our view of the world and allowing us to develop empathy with other human beings. They allow us to make connections – with other books, with our own experiences of life, with the wider world and the meaning of life.
However, did you also know that reading for pleasure is a very powerful factor in life achievement, even more so than someone’s socio-economic background? Simply reading for pleasure, little and often, can lead to better academic results, better job prospects and greater personal happiness, including more successful relationships. This is all well-documented, international research. So we feel even more compelled to get this right for our students.
We ask all students to read little and often for pleasure – ten or fifteen minutes most nights is ideal. We give them opportunities to choose books, to talk and write about them and to read aloud in English lessons all the way through to year 9. We have plans in place to encourage such independent reading in all year groups. Even for children with dyslexia, the importance of ‘story’ need not be diminished: it is perfectly acceptable to share the reading with more confident readers at home, to be read to and to listen to stories as audio books occasionally.
Mr Housley-Tatton has been working very hard this term to improve the library as a fiction reading resource and area. After Christmas, students will notice a focus on fiction displays and greater accessibility to the fabulous books we have. We will also be working closely with the Staffordshire Library Service to ensure that we have up-to-date books which we think students will want to read. We have just launched an inter-house reading competition to keep track of which house is reading the most books and we have exciting plans to bring authors into school and to involve students in book-ish events and activities beyond Abbotsholme.
I shall never forget the joy of spending Christmas morning reading my new book while Mum and Dad prepared the family meal: on the English page of Firefly, we have provided a list of possible books which Santa may like to pop into Christmas stockings. (Do ‘google’ titles or use a site like ‘goodreads’ to judge for yourself whether a book would be suitable for your child before buying it – broad age guidance does not take account of individual preferences or standards in terms of content!)
We make it our mission to help children find books and authors which will switch them on to reading. We are very proud of the efforts children have made this term and, when one of them makes the discovery that will change their lives, we feel blessed to have played a part in that.