In the past few weeks I have been trying to work out something out. My now 6 year old son made outstanding progress in his reading in his first two years of school, despite starting school unable to write his name and with little understanding of phonics. But, according to the schools ‘official recording’, he made no observable progress between mid June and mid October. This was despite continuing to read and share books over the summer holidays. It is with everything I have learnt in the past few years from the fabulous ‘bookish’ communities of Twitter that I am privileged to be part of, that I have been able to reflect on and understand what has happened.
I now realise that a significant part of the reason for this has noting to do with my son. But, to do with a number of school changes both before and after the school holidays which removed many of the elements that were supporting his development as a reader, and as a child who wants to read. But, the good news is thanks to so many people I have talked to about books and reading on Twitter I have been able to able to tune into my child as a reader. From those of you that have time and time again reminded me that picture books are valuable what ever your age. Those of you that are reading teachers or TA’s doing wonderful things in your classroom and school leaders passionate about putting reading for pleasure at the heart of what you do. The many individuals that have chatted about books with me, whether it was because I wanted to find out something about the book or I just wanted to relax chatting about books with people that were equally passionate about them as I am. Thank you to you all. Because it is what I have learnt (and am still learning) from being part of fabulous ‘bookish’ Twitter communities which has enabled me to identify how I can support my son at home. We have gone in less than a month from a child to who got dangerously close to loosing interest in reading altogether to a child which is now taking his first steps towards becoming a reader not just this year, but for many years to come. Thank you for making a big difference to a bright, imaginative, curious but highly individually child you haven’t even met.
This week’s favourite reads
That moment when a child first begins to articulate what it is they like to read is always a magical one. This weekend my son said: “I like books with activities in the back (in this case he meant recipes). Can we get some more of these. I think they may help ease me into chapter books”.
You can find me on Twitter @melissacreate15
Theres are far too many individuals from authors, illustrators, librarians, book bloggers, parents, teachers, TA’s and school leaders that I could not possible name you all here. But, would like to make a special thank you to three communities: @WomeEd @Reading_Rocks_ @OpenUni_RfP
One of the wonderful things about being a parent is seeing your children grow in confidence, you don’t always notice the small changes, but when all those small changes add up to a bigger change you do. One of the things my nearly 9 year old has grown in confidence in is her reading. This includes her confidence that she will find another book she likes and her increasing ability to accurately choose books she does like. Both are essential skills in reading for pleasure: a belief that there are stories out there you will love and, the ability to find them. It has been a two year journey to get to where she is now. It is only as she moves into a new phase in her reading that I realise just how far we have come. I say we, because in parallel to her journey I have re-discovered a love of fiction, after reading mainly non-fiction for 10 years. I have discovered I much prefer reading children’s fiction, to adult fiction, and that I especially like middle grade fiction!
My daughter and I have, over the last two years, both become readers. We have discovered authors we had never heard of two years ago, and that there is so much more variety in children’s chapter book fiction than we could have possibly imagined. Yet, what is interesting is that until a month ago, there weren’t any books I had read or suggested to her that she had picked up and read. We have read different middle grade stories.
As an indepedent bookseller I was initially interested in reading children’s books, so I could tell my customers about them. But, then I quickly realised I was picking stories out of my selections that I really wanted to read. Through becoming a reader myself I have a new understanding of what it takes to become a child who wants to read. Most importantly I realise that becoming a person who wants to read is not a linear journey. It is instead a dynamic process with up and downs. I have also discovered that there a multiple routes to becoming a reader, and for many children (adults) this is something that has to be worked at.
It was about two years ago this month, that my daughter discovered the first book she loved reading for herself. That story was Hetty Feather by Jacqueline Wilson, and was very important in getting her reading. You can read about it in my blog post. However, as we were to discover that was just the start of her journey towards reading for pleasure. Along the way there are many things and people that have helped. My decision last May to book us into our first live author events at the Linton Book Festival was one of them, and I will be talking about this in my next blog post. We hope that by sharing some of the things that helped us, that more people will realise there are many ways to becoming a reader and that you may find out something that will help a child you know, in their journey to becoming a reader.