Sunday, 15 July 2012
Letter from Key Stage 2 teacher
I know several teachers like me who spend their own money scouring jumble sales, charity shops and bargain book sales in order to buy books to be readily available for children in their classrooms. Rather than the school appreciating my efforts and/or prioritising buying books for this purpose, I have actually been told I should stop doing this as it is unfair to children in other classes whose teachers do not buy books out of their own pockets! To be fair, we do have an excellent school library which the children go to each week. However, I have found that having a wide selection of books readily available in the classroom generates much more shared reading and discussion, which in turn leads to children reading more independently too.
If any journalists do take up your challenge to find out about the number of books in schools, then they might want to enquire how many have been bought by teachers like me, desperate to give children as many opportunities as possible to read wonderful books.
Although by no means a statistically significant sample, I'm sure you will not be surprised to know that the children in my KS2 class invariably make better progress in reading each year than children in other classes despite the fact that other teachers hear each child read every day (I don't). What I do, is talk to children about the books they read and discuss those I read and love, give them lots of opportunities to read on their own and to share books together, read stories and poetry to them regularly and have plenty of picturebooks available which I encourage even the most able readers to read. Research in Children's Literature at Cambridge University done by Morag Styles and Maria Nikoleva (among others) has shown that when older children (7+) read picturebooks this stimulates some amazing questions and discussions and helps develop an appreciation of irony. I have certainly observed this to be true.