image source - giddykipper - not on the high street
Since my children were about six months old I have read to them. Obviously I don't read to the older ones anymore but every night I am blessed to snuggle up with Amber and Kitty and sometimes Lucy to read stories. This means I also get to expand the type of books I am reading too, with favourites at the moment being David Walliams and Frank Cottrell Boyce alongside Princess Poppy stories. I also encourage all of my children to read, I even brought Jack a book for Christmas, in the hope he would sit and read again. It seems some teenage boys aren't the avid readers they were when they were younger, devouring a book before breakfast!
Now I will hold my hands up and admit, I am a bit lapsidaisical when it comes to making sure I listen to Amber and Kitty read their school reading books, but I do reguarly listen to them, just not always school books. I have to admit that I am pleased we are past the Biff and Kipper stage, yet I appreciate the repetitiveness of these aid in the job of learning to read. Those first tentative steps in learning to read can be scary, difficult and I know from helping at school listening to readers many children would actually like to just give up. They want to play, not sit and try and make sense of the letter shapes on the pages of first reader books. I can understand that, I have days when I would rather be doing something else than reading a textbook or journal article. But every child should be encouraged, helped and taught to read. This is the best gift we can ever give them. Reading opens so many doors for them, I don't just mean later in life when they join the rat race. Every sentence can help their vocabulary grow. Every page can take them on adventures that real life may never lead them onto. Every chapter could help them understand that they are not the only one going through a tough time and may even give them the courage to ask for help or talk about their feelings.
So I have signed up again to pop into school once a week until I head back out on clinical practice to listen to children read. I have been doing this for several years now and I love it. I give up an hour and half a week to sit and listen, to help the adventure of reading begin and continue. Listening to children getting excited about the stories they are reading makes this time so worth while. But even more so when a child who has struggled improves, their confidence growing in every page read. This truly makes me smile.
Most schools welcome helpers to listen to children read. They may ask you to be CRB checked, which they will pay for, but the requirement seems to vary with different schools. Whilst parents are encouraged, grandparents, aunties, uncles and I expect godparents too, are welcomed. Just imagine the difference you could make by sitting for an hour a week listening to children at your local primary school read.
Until next time, take care.