The summer holiday is often the only opportunity that teachers have to make time to read all those books that have been recommended to them throughout the school year. If you want to ensure that the pupils in your class from next September are children who want to read the best way is to know the wonderful range of books available to them. But where do you start? The highly regarded award winning books, the brilliant novel suggested as a good class read and the picturebook to share with your own family all sound so appealing. Yes, of course all of these books are vital if you want to be a reading teacher but it also helps to read books about children, books and reading. As a school librarian I have read many of these over the last 17 years and wanted to share some of my favourites.
The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller
If you only have the time to read one book about children reading I think this is the one. Immensely readable with practical advice and tips this has rapidly become the ‘’reading teacher’s’’ go to manual on reading for pleasure. Miller’s approach emphasises the importance of choice and being given time to engage fully with the text. Her passion is infectious and she dispenses sensible advice to ensure that her approach works in the classroom. As a teacher she has a proven track record in achieving very impressive results using her style. I think a good example of her approach is the terms she uses to describe the different types of readers: not reluctant but ‘’dormant’’ and ‘’developing’’ instead of struggling. This is a very positive and enthusiastic book that provides class teachers with the tools to change their own classrooms too. Highly recommended.
Tell Me, Children, Reading and Talk and the Reading Environment by Aidan Chambers
As a school librarian I have witnessed how important informal bookchat can be in encouraging children to read for pleasure. The library is the ideal place for this to happen. In this thoughtful book this chat is taken further and Chambers shows how his approach encourages children to become articulate critics of books and helps teachers to develop booktalk in the classroom. The author gives many examples of how these conversations work and also provides a comprehensive list of the sorts of questions that promote discussion. The book is divided into two sections and also describes, with examples, how children’s surroundings and the way in which books are made available to them influence their reading journeys. An excellent book.
Understanding Children’s Books – A Guide for Education Professionals – Edited by Prue Goodwin.
I have found this book hugely helpful and return to it often. The contributors to this text read a little like a Who’s Who of Children’s Literature and include Prue Goodwin (also the editor), Nikki Gamble and Mel Gibson. It covers books from nursery to lower secondary and each chapter covers a different theme or genre and gives examples of titles for each. The themes include storytelling and traditional tales, books in translation, poetry, non-fiction and graphic novels. An excellent book to dip into for specific needs this is also written in easy to read style.
Promoting Reading for Pleasure in the Primary School by Michael Lockwood
This practical book draws on research studies into reading for pleasure by children in the UK to discuss the many national initiatives promoting its importance and also identifies effective practices taking place in schools. There are individual case studies and details of activities and schemes that work. Full of practical advice this is a useful book for everyone interested in developing a love of reading including school librarians, teachers and T.A.s. This is the sort of book that fills you with ideas and enthusiasm.
Developing Children’s Critical Thinking through Picture Books by Mary Roche
Wisdom and practical advice are dispensed in this must read book for any teacher who is interested in making the most of picturebooks in the classroom. The emphasis on discussion and using these books to help young children to think and make sense of the world around them is so sensible and there are many helpful examples of how this works in the classroom. There is considerable reference to helpful research too and to what critical literacy means. I found this to be a fascinating read and wish it had been around when I started my career as a school librarian.
The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac
This last recommendation is slightly different to the others but equally helpful to anyone interested in what encourages children to read. The author looks back on his own childhood reading and on his attitude as a parent and teacher. He stresses the importance of not turning something that should be a pleasure into a chore. This is a thought provoking read and ‘’the rights’’ are frequently mentioned during discussions about reading in schools. My personal favourite is, ‘’the right to mistake a book for real life’’, something I do quite frequently!
These are just a few of the books that over the past seventeen years I have used and shared as a school librarian. Of course there are others and my ‘’to read pile’’ includes Reading for Pleasure by Kenny Pieper and Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. Both of these have been recommended by others so you may like to try these too.
Happy holiday reading…