One thing our book week last year highlighted to me was that books still hold tremendous power over our psyche. Nothing compares to a good book in firing up the human imagination. They help us unite in a way like no other. Stories have true power to bring about change and open us up to ideas and new thinking. Thinking which we would never agree upon if someone spoke to us about it.
It was very a pleasure revisiting some of my childhood classics like Enid Blyton, Dickens and discovering new ones like My Family and Other Animals. How I missed that one is a travesty but I guess better late than never.
I also noticed that as we grow older, we don't share as much about the books we read. It starts becoming more of a personal thing. I witnessed that as our Primary children were so enthusiastic in talking about the books they read and sharing why and what they liked. In Secondary it was more guarded, perhaps a more reflective view that wasn't shared as often. In Sixth Form, it was like getting blood out of stone. Even teachers fell foul to this. I wonder if the fear of being judged plays a part in it or conforming (or not as the case might be) to a particular stereotype or agenda or we simply just become selfish.
It would be interesting to find out how reading for pleasure changes as children get older. From being almost a daily thing when you are young (at least in school) to being selective as you grow. Perhaps other commitments to your time take precedent or the enforcement of certain texts as part of academic studies plays a part. It makes some of us switch off and move on to other mediums like music, films, games and so on and that I guess is the true travesty.
The other highlight of that week was a visit from JK Rowling. Inspirational does not even begin to describe it. It was a life changing event for some of our children. There were tears, excitement, enthusiasm by the bucket load. Even those who haven't read Harry Potter (well the series has only sold 400 million so bound to have a few billion who haven't read it) were inspired as I found out whilst talking to teachers and students around school.
Why was it so good? Despite her being such a lovely lady, it was her persona, how she praised everyone who asked a question to how articulate she was with her answers. How her passion for reading and writing stood out and how she connected with the children. How the human element shone so brightly. Her politeness, calmness and that fire when Potter lore was discussed with some self proclaimed potter heads in her interactions. That is what perhaps translates in her stories, that ability to connect, which has made her such a success. So how does all this help teaching?
Well, I think you picked up all the traits implied and if we as teachers can tap into those then our learners are truly going to foster a love of learning right on par with the love of books.