So what do we mean when we say “reading for pleasure”?
Some would ask “is there any other kind of reading?”
For these people, any text is an invitation to read. The back of a cereal packet whilst waiting for the kettle to boil; the abandoned shopping list left behind in the trolley at Morrison’s; the sign on the car park at the docks that tells you “This car park closes at 8 pm. The barrier will be locked until….”. I’ve read that sign about a thousand times; I clearly don’t need to read it every time I park there and I’ve even tried forcing myself not to but I just can’t. If words present themselves in front of me, I just have to read them – interesting or not. I read every word on every sign that I pass on the motorway. In fact, it annoys me if a truck gets in the way as I pass the sign. 😂
Now I realise this doesn’t sound much like “pleasure” and I’m possibly starting to sound a little odd at this point 🤣 but bear with me because it’s an oddness that I’d encourage absolutely everyone to embrace if they can. Reading these mundane notes, signs etc is pretty involuntary to me. Reading is my ‘me time’. I like to ‘read for pleasure’ in any spare moment so it’s no surprise that it’s leaked into my ‘not-so-spare’ moments too.
When we send a reading scheme book home with your child, we like them to show willing and read a few pages at home. We’d like them to read with you if possible (we’re aware of course that this can be tricky – even teachers skip this some nights with their own children!). There is purpose behind the reading schemes of course; they are banded and the vocabulary and phrasing are chosen very carefully to show improvement in your child’s reading skills over time. Reading schemes will always be an essential part of reading in school.
However, these books are not ‘reading for pleasure’ items. They’re not a substitute for your child finding a book at the library that they are just dying to read. They’re not the book that has been hyped by their classmates and has a waiting list to borrow. They’re not the start of a lifetime love of reading. For this, we need to look elsewhere…
Some of your children may have mentioned our school Reading Club/Book Chat. We’ve been running these for the last term on Thursday and Friday afternoons and I can honestly say that it’s by far the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in any school. I now have like-minded little people who will happily indulge my love of book chat for an afternoon and who have created the absolutely perfect atmosphere to do so. They’re so enthusiastic about the group and this is rubbing off on their classmates. They just can’t stop reading and I have absolutely no wish to slow them down at all. Reading like this gives them the opportunity to use their imagination, to explore new ideas, to visit new places and to meet new characters. It improves their well-being and empathy. It helps them to understand their own identity, and gives them an insight into the world and the views of others. It’s also just plain, good fun – for them and me! For this reason, we’ll be doing all we can to give children opportunities to read for pleasure – including enrollment at the local library.
Of course, not everyone is so in love with books and reading – I’m going to chat more about that in part 2 – but if you’re a reader who would like to give us a recommendation, know more about ‘reading for pleasure’, or even join us on one of our book chats, please leave a comment because we’d love to chat – especially if you bring a book! 😊
Mrs France – RAMJS Reading Team