What is reading for pleasure and why is it vital for all schools?
Anything from poetry to instruction manuals, magazines, comics, biography, fiction, history, information – it’s a lifelong resource. You can do it any time, anywhere.
When I was working in a children’s bookshop, every lunchtime for a fortnight a boy of about nine years old from a nearby Traveller settlement would come in, ask if there were any books about dogs, and would browse and sample all kinds of titles for half an hour, then leave. I wasn’t sure whether he could read or not, but I sensed his pleasure.
At home with a small child, I used to think of sharing books as a kind of playing, especially since my two year old would demand to “play books” on a daily basis.It was entirely pleasurable and satisfying for us both, and later on we used to act out scenes from stories at her request. I have the same feelings when I am involved in any “reading lesson” at school. I approach each one with a strong sense of optimism and anticipation, and it feels like a new experience each time. As a teacher, I see myself as a sympathetic co-reader, ready to help but also to set up the reading experience for the child by giving him or her the expectation of enjoyment. This applies to all children, regardless of age or reading ability. I like to read with anybody, sometimes for no reason other than the shared pleasure of discovering in the text something familiar or unfamiliar, humorous or thought-provoking. Every home or school book -sharing encounter between an adult and a child can be a quality experience carrying a positive message about reading.