A Reading Autobiography
It is difficult to determine my earliest memory of reading. I know that I was always being read to by my parents from a very young age and throughout my childhood our house was filled with books. I remember watching my parents read on a regular basis and, wanting to emulate them, I soon followed suit.
Even though it may not have been my first memory of a book from my childhood, certainly one of my most vivid would have to be Eric Carle’s classic tale about ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’. The bright, collage-style illustrations captivated me instantly and the story is one that I, along with many, many other people around the world, will never forget. I recently asked my mum if there were any books in particular that I was attached to as a child. She told me that one I would take absolutely everywhere with me was ‘PEEPO!’ by Janet and Allan Ahlberg (I still have the extremely worn copy on my book shelf today!). Other timeless stories I enjoyed by the Ahlbergs included ‘Each Peach Pear Plum’, ‘Bye Bye Baby’ and ‘The Jolly Postman’. These sorts of books taught me a lot about the world around me without even realising it. I have since read them to the children I looked after whilst working as a Nursery Assistant and they loved them, proving that a good book doesn’t age and they are still adored decades after their publication. Some other much loved books from my childhood are ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’, ‘Little Beaver and the Echo’ and ‘Can’t you Sleep Little Bear?’, all of which I look forward to being able to read to my future class one day.
I think if I had to choose an all-time favourite book from my early childhood it would have to be ‘The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark’ by Jill Tomlinson. The book tells the story of ‘Plop’, the baby barn owl who thinks “the dark is nasty”, until his mother tells him to go and find out more about the dark from a variety of different people. The story ends with Plop concluding that the dark is “Super!”. I loved the book so much that I also had the audio book and vividly remember falling asleep to it night after night.
As i got older I started reading a lot of Roald Dahl; ‘The BFG’, ‘Matilda’, ‘The Enormous Crocodile’ and ‘Danny Champion of the World’ being just some of my favourites. I also enjoyed ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ by Lemony Snicket (the nom de plume of American author Daniel Handler), which follows lives and adventures of siblings Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire. Like many other people my age, I don’t think I could write about my reading experiences as a child without mentioning the words ‘Harry’ and ‘Potter’. I clearly remember receiving a copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ from my Auntie on my 10th birthday. I dismissed it almost immediately (I have since learnt not to judge a book by its cover!) and it lay untouched on my bedside table for weeks until my Dad convinced me to give it a go. He began reading it to me, doing the voices for the different characters and within a few chapters I was hooked. Then I was the one reading it to him instead, going on to the rest of the series and growing up along side it’s characters.
Most of the books I read now as an adult are determined by recommendations from family and friends, books I have been given as gifts or good reviews of newly published titles. Saying this however, some of the best books I have read have been chosen sporadically by browsing in book shops, opening a book at random and reading a page or two to see if I like it. I particularly love Nick Hornby’s books and have read all of them, ‘High Fidelity’ being one of my favourites. Some of the authors I have been reading more recently include David Nicholls, Audrey Niffenegger, Alice Sebold, John Irving and Markus Zusak.
Reflections on PP1
Luckily, due to working in a nursery for a year, I have already had a lot of experience in reading to children and the techniques I would have to use in order to keep them engaged and focussed on the story (including mastering the art of upside down reading!). I was still a little nervous though as I haven’t yet had much experience of reading to older children, and was therefore careful to adjust my style to suit the older audience of 6 and 7 year olds.
I chose this text because I find that young children respond well to, and are often are able to concentrate better on books with a lot of alliteration, rhyme and language pattern. I also chose it as I enjoyed the Hairy Maclary books myself as a child and because the illustrations are large, detailed and expressive and would hopefully captivate the children.
*I sat on a chair in front of the class with the pupils sitting on the carpet in front of me.
*I held the book open in front of me and managed to read the book from above upside down so that the illustrations were always visible to the class.
*I felt that I read the book with expression and projected my voice clearly enough for all the class to hear and understand. I tried my best to give the children eye contact throughout the story.
*Many of the children found the book entertaining and the antics of Hairy Maclary and his friends made many of them giggle and laugh, including the funny illustrations.
The teacher didn’t have chance to write out her comments for me but she told me afterwards that she thought I had done well and that the children had enjoyed it. If I was to read the story again I would probably try to ask the pupils more questions about the content/characters/illustrations in the book as I went along to keep them thinking.