‘I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.’ Roald Dahl
It’s twenty five past one in the afternoon and the pupils are sat rapt as the teacher reads aloud from Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses. They are tired from working hard for four periods but the teacher’s passion for reading has taken them on a journey deep into another world and the pupils are hanging on every word. As the tension builds the atmosphere in the room intensifies and there is an audible groan when the bell goes for lunch and the class are left on tenterhooks desperate to know what happens next. As they exit the room the conversation is buzzing with questions which will be answered on another day. This is the magical power of reading being shared and valued by skilled teachers.
This is not a one off event though. No pupil is too old or too young to enjoy listening to carefully chosen fiction and non-fiction texts and so for half an hour every day all pupils and students, from Year 7 right through to Year 13, have a reading aloud session. The benefits are immense and we firmly believe that reading to the pupils is a vital part of their education.
The benefits of reading aloud:
• It creates a sense of community by building a shared ‘reading history’ but also develops pupil’s awareness of sophisticated language, vocabulary and literary themes that they might not otherwise encounter.
• It helps model fluent reading by pausing at commas and other punctuation marks and varying your tone of voice when reading exclamations and questions.
• It is a captivating experience develops a sense of wonder and thoughtful reflection.
• It exposes pupils to new authors and genres that they might not naturally select for themselves. It also encourages pupils to read sequels and other books in the series.
• Through carefully chosen texts that address relevant social issues pupils are able to develop a sense of empathy, compassion and understanding that enhances their knowledge and understanding of the world and humanity.
• Our students come from a diverse range of backgrounds. Whilst for some of them being read to by their parents or carers is a cherished ritual we are conscious that for others this could be the only time in their childhood that someone has read aloud to them.
• By creating time for reading aloud and making it a habit we are helping all of our pupils develop a lifelong love of reading by giving them memorable experiences with books.
In an ever expanding curriculum with competing demands and pressures many teachers feel that they simply cannot afford the time to read aloud to pupils. We believe the opposite and make a conscious effort to plan reading aloud sessions for all our pupils. Yes, it can be a big challenge that requires time, commitment, a budget and passion but we firmly believe that reading aloud to pupils of all ages, including teenagers, is an integral part of childhood and any successful reading programme. In the words of Dr Seuss:
‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.’
Mrs Exton & Mr Cobane.