Reading and Pebbles: thoughts on children’s reading experience Part 2

In my previous article I used a pebble and readers analogy to explore a child’s reading experience. In it I discovered a natural system was a useful lense to view a complex human process. From this viewpoint you can start to ask all sorts of questions. One of which I consider below.

If you take two identical lumps of rock and place each of them in a different environment, will you still get a pebble at the end of it? That depends on the characteristics of each of those environments. But, there are several different environmental conditions in which you will eventually get a round pebble. However the timescale by which that rock turns into a pebble may vary considerably. So using this scenario if we take two children with similar life experiences, and similar reading competences and place them in two different ‘book environments’, one, which is encouraging, and one that is less so, what happens then? Do we get two competent and enthusiastic readers at the end of it? In asking this question I have begun to see just how important a child’s ‘book environment’ is.

There are many individuals, across Britain making a positive difference to creating competent and enthusiastic readers. These include: book bloggers and twitter chat leaders who are sharing information about books; reading recovery teachers who are helping children acquire reading skills and confidence; librarians and authors; and teachers or school leaders who are fostering reading cultures in their classrooms or schools or communities. If you are a child who experiences one or more of these positive ‘book environments’ then your chances of becoming an enthusiastic reader are enhanced. However, the reality is many children of all backgrounds and abilities are experiencing what I term a ‘deficit in access to and knowledge of books’. Thus making it harder for these children to find a book they actually want to read. In this blog, my daughter and I will be exploring some of the children’s stories and non-fiction books that have caught our attention. Looking at both the books themselves and what it is that got us interested in those books in the first place. By doing so we hope to make a very small contribution to the deficit in ‘book knowledge’.


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