Over the last academic year, the new curriculum brought in many changes. After a year of working within its new confines, the one I feel has had the greatest impact in my classroom is the newfound importance on reading for pleasure.
I am a reader. All literacy teachers are readers (free time permitting, of course). In fact, we are teachers of literacy because we are all readers. That love of the written word has to start somewhere – and, for each of us, it started with a good book.
In today’s classroom, with its multitude of to-do lists, it can sometimes be easy to forget the core value of literacy, and often even easier to forget that, at the core of that core, a good read can teach a child so much more than just syntax and semantics.
Can you remember the first book you truly loved? I can. It was Matilda by Roald Dahl. Sure, the reading of it (and then the rest of Dahl’s canon, which I later proceeded to devour) helped cement the fundamentals of SPaG via a kind of osmosis which my teachers scaffolded every day, but those words also taught me more profound life-skills: compassion, wit, the necessity of mutually-beneficial relationships, the vitality of education. I continue to read every day because of my epiphanic first good read, and I continue to learn more and more with each book.
Reading for pleasure is not a luxury—it is, rather, one of the most vital gifts we can bestow upon our children. It is a means to learn through an enjoyable and healthy pursuit. I, for one, am so glad that the new curriculum has recognised this, as it is something which I try to facilitate through the work I do every day.