A thought provoking piece above taken from Frank Cottrell Boyce's Fickling lecture in Oxford. How do we go about creating a true reading culture where children truly love to read. I don't think Frank Cottrell Boyce is knocking any teacher in this piece not least the teacher who he speaks of who'd like some wow words! It's just something to make us think in a wider sense. I write a blog about books but I've found myself down that 'looking for wow words route' as a teacher too. I just wonder what we've become when we pick apart every book. As I spoke about last week I think some of the rudiments of story do need to be taught because clearly not everybody is able to just pull out a story at the drop of a hat. Those basics do need teaching and people favour lots of different 'ways in'. But immersing children in story is necessary and a 'must' BECAUSE IT'S GOOD+RIGHT. We want our children to read books, lots of them and if we want that we have to read children books, lots of them. As Dr. Seuss says ' The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go'.
We can't have a reading culture without lots of books and without encouraging children to read the whole book for the joy of reading the whole book NOT to answer questions. I do often talk about reading as a writer and writing as a reader I must admit but I hope I do it in the spirit of immersion in books first thereby avoiding any implication that we read because we're all going to write. We read because we can escape, find out things, meet new worlds, new characters, have new experiences, have happy experiences, be sad, be terrified experience a myriad of emotions. I wish that for our children too and they can do so, hopefully, within the warmth and safety of their family first and foremost but certainly within school where they have people there for them to talk through something tricky or sad or scary in a book. It must be done though...we can't avoid reading long books because it takes time. We can't expect children to write well if they don't read and we can't expect children to IMAGINE if we don't give them the space to do it. So I wish Frank Cottrell Boyce wasn't spot on and I wish I could say PAH that doesn't happen in schools but I really think, sadly, it does. Use books to inspire writing YES but first we just have to read books and enjoy them.It's not a quick fix I'm afraid YET it's a right of a child to imagine. Can't help thinking if more people weren't jumping up and down in rage about this we might be able to give children back their imagination. A 'side effect' would then be writing which of course would contain many more words because children would be exposed to the power of language if they read a wealth of books with fine language in them. I'm still yet to meet a child who hasn't got a will to write if they are an enthusiastic reader.