Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Putting my professional hat on! Reading.

I have been retired from teaching for a few years now but my daughter in law asked me to write a few words about helping a child to learn to read. Oh my goodness I had forgotten how passionately I felt about it. She asked for a paragraph and it turned out like this.

My thoughts about children and reading.


I taught in The Foundation stage all my teaching career. I think my favourite time of day was "Story time!" And my most rewarding moments were listening to children read and see that "lightbulb " moment when a child chose to spend their time in the Book Corner or ask if they could read to me, or see them read to a friend,a teddy or anybody else that would listen.


To know that they had started on a Literacy journey that would enrich the rest of their lives.

The children who came into class with a love of books,poetry,nursery rhymes,in fact any aspect of the written word stood out like shining beacons. They could not " read" per sae but knew that books and stories were special. They knew that story time was a time for quiet enjoyment. They understood that they had to listen to get the magic.


Instilling a love of the written word in its many forms can be the best gift you could give your child. I honestly believe it is the key to every area of development and learning.


Albert Einstein said" if you want your child to be intelligent read them Fairy Stories. If you want your child to be more intelligent read them more Fairy Stories!"

Just change the words Fairy Stories to the wider spectrum. Fiction,non fiction,poetry,nonsense rhymes, comics,newspapers anything that takes their attention.


Show your child that the world can be explored in the most exciting way by books and the written word. Show your child that the questions " how", "why", "when" can be answered by the written word.


Do not worry about teaching your child to read. Read to your new born baby, read to your toddler, read to your school age child, read to your older child. As long as it's pleasurable for you both keep reading to your loved ones for as long as you can.


In this modern technological age there are so many ways of entertaining and educating your children. I am in no way saying these things do not have a place in young children's lives. They obviously do. But, nothing replaces close cuddles, either on the settee or in bed when a little one know he has 100% of your attention. Wrap yourself in a cuddly blanket, read with expression, read with silly voices, read with love. Make it fun, a time of bonding, make it something to look forward to. Make it a part of every day.

Let your child make a little place in your house where he or she can keep their books. A place where they can go and find peace and happiness. In the early stages this might just be looking at pictures. Soon they will be pretending to read. Making up the stories as they see print. Go there sometimes and join in. But always find a time when your child is in a receptive mood. Children love routines and most of all,be prepared to read favourite books a zillion times.


Your child will come to love books and will soon learn the mechanics of reading. He will understand how books work. How to turn pages, how to follow the print from left to right . How a story generally has a beginning a middle and an end. How the unexpected, ridiculous,funny, extraordinary can happen.


My saddest days when teaching was when I looked in a book bag or in a Reading Record Book and realised that no one had spent time with their child and their books for days. The saddest reason given was " But, I don't have time" I wanted to scream... " Make time!!!!" It's the most important thing you can do. Children learn by example. A house with books,and where reading is seen as an essential part of life by all in the family is paramount. Be that model. Read yourself. Visit the library. Write stories with your child about their life so that the written word is seen as something personal,relevant and important.


Don't make reading a test. Don't make it stressful. Never make it a competition with other children. I honestly believe that when a child starts to read independently they should not be expected to read unknown text. When he or she has started school and a book comes home from their teachers read it to your child first. Maybe many times. Make reading a safe thing. A wonderful journey. Never let a child feel it is hard,difficult or something they can fail with. Remember all those times when you read to your child. Those times cuddled on the settee together . Make the school book feel as safe as that. To try, for example to cover the pictures to make sure they can actually read is like sending you on a journey without a map. Every clue should be given, every step supported, every effort praised.


Your child will soon be a reader in every true sense of the word.





  1. Hey Linda,
    What a wonderful post! This is exactly how I feel about reading a reading, and especially about reading with your child. I treasure the time I have spent with all three of my boys during that magic hour before bed. Quiet cuddly time, bedtime stories and cuddles. It cuts through even the most difficult days, and weaves a thread of healing. I missed it when it finally ended, but also loved the fact that they were content to lose themselves in book of their choosing. I am lucky to be doing it all over again with Olly. I can't wait to dust down my copy of The Magic Faraway Tree, and plough through the Harry Potter books once more.
    Leanne xx

  2. What a great post, Linda! I'm passionate about books and the power of a good story as well. I read aloud to my kids from the time they were babies until the youngest three were university age. In fact, the last book we read aloud together was the final Harry Potter Book, and my oldest daughter was in her second year of university at the time. And they were still begging me to read "just one more chapter."

  3. A wonderful post, reading is a precious gift to be shared with loved ones. I love reading with my grandchildren and cherish every second.

  4. Great post, I am going to show my daughter-in-law.
    I always remember reading with my eldest. At the time we were living in Devon (1986/7 - he was 5/6 years old), and the first reading scheme was something like the 'The Little Red House' or it could have been the 'The Little Blue House' cannot remember, we read at home. One of the words was 'vineyard' I corrected my son and said 'vinyard', he read the pages again at school, that evening his teacher told me off for correcting and then was told well at least we know you read with your child. Wasn't sure how to take that at the time.
    Julie xxxxxxxx

  5. Absolutely.....I work in a library and used to help teach children to read at my local school. It should start as a fun occupation. There is plenty of time for it to become more serious later. I introduced my daughter to books at a few weeks old and she has always loved them. I will do the same if she ever has children.

  6. Oh Linda I echo each and every word. I teach in a primary school with children who have poor Literacy skills - so often their reading diaries are empty (and yet you find that they might have the latest video console/ tv in their room etc.) 'No time' is the most common reason, however over time I have realised that many of the parents have poor reading skills themselves and have negative associations with reading. One of my most cherished memories follows allowing a ten year old boy take home 'Where's Wally?' in his reading bag. His family background wasn't good and he had very poor behaviour. However a couple of days later he and his dad walked up to me at the school gate and were bubbling with excitement - they had 'read' the book from cover to cover (of course it has no words!) at the weekend and wanted to get another one as soon as possible. The dad - who also had various issues - was so thankful. To think that something as simple as a picture book could bring them so much joy was quite humbling - of course the time together brings so much more. Well done for your piece x Jane

  7. I hope that you encouraged even one person to spend more time reading with their children. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  8. Exactly! So well written!
    Hearing the horror stories of children graduating from class and not knowing how to read, I taught my littles phonetics before they started kindergarten. We had plastic magnetic letters on the fridge, and I would make them into small words that we'd sound out together, them mix them up to see what crazy words we could invent.
    Every night we'd have a reading time when we cuddled and read together. Every Friday night, we'd go to the local library for our family date night. We'd return our library books and take out new ones to read. Sometimes, if the budget allowed, we'd go for a little dessert treat afterwards.
    Both our children were avid readers as children, and still are today. Our daughter is teaching her little girl all about the magic of books.
    I, too, believe that if you enjoy reading, then you'll enjoy learning throughout your life. Reading opens the doors to the world. I'm so glad my father loved to read and passed on this love to me.
    Of course, cuddling together, sharing time, fun, and the magic of the imagination is a wonderful added bonus!!

  9. A brilliant post - so true. I wish more teachers would tell the truth that it isn't just a schools job to teach a child to read, but should be shared with a parent or sibling x

  10. Oh and can I also add that you must have been a wonderful teacher xx

  11. Oh Linda, what a fantastic post. I too echo every word you've said, both with my "former teacher" and my "mother of three" hat on. We never get that time back again, and it is such a short part of their lives. I always remember my late husband saying reading to the boys was his favourite part of the day, and I was very sad indeed when i realised my youngest was soon going to no longer want me to read to him. I can't wait to have grandchildren so I can take up the love of reading to and with them again. I'll get all the old children's books down from the loft, including The Elephant and the Bad Baby, which we read so many times I can still remember every single word! Thank you for a great trip down memory lane :-)

  12. Thank you all so much for such a wonderful response to this post. I,too agree with every word you have said and I only hope in this modern age the book and all it embraces stays in the forefront of everybody's life.
    It is lovely to get comments from like minded people. A love of books lasts a lifetime doesn't it?
    Love Linda

  13. Thankyou for that, I agreed with it all. Reading should be fun & accessible to all. So sad to see young children who do not know how to hold a book, turn the pages, or understand that there is fun and information to be had from a book. I despair of politicians who want to even up the offer at secondary school /university stage and do not appear to understand that the inequalties start so very, very early on. Thankyou again, Vee x

  14. So VERY well said Linda. I missed this post last week, but popped back for a read when I saw you had referred to it in your post today. I cannot remember every not being able to read, I could always read and mostly read to myself and by myself. It is great that I could always read, but I would have loved to have memories of bedtime stories and reading in a snuggle as you describe. I cannot possibly agree more with everything that you said here. My only regret is that I don't read more books now! xx


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