All entries for Monday 17 October 2011
October 17, 2011
Although I cannot actually remember not being able to read, I can certainly recall a number of key early experiences that must have shaped my reading interest. I mostly remember my mother reading stories to me about ‘Peter Rabbit’ and ‘Jemima Puddleduck’, and finding this a very comforting experience, particularly when getting ready for bed. Reading with my mother was definitely a significant factor and when reflecting on my early reading experiences, I wonder what impact it would have had on me should I have not had the opportunity to read so much at home.
‘The Tiger Who Came to Tea’ by Judith Kerr was one of the first stories that I remember reading alone and one that I was introduced to at school; I particularly loved the fact that the main character was also called Sophie! It was such a simple connection to the text but it really got me engaged in the story and I would then want to read it repeatedly with my mother at home.
Key texts that stand out as significant include ‘Goodnight Mister Tom’ by Michelle Magorian, which was read to us as a class in Year 5 and also used for shared reading activities. The story dealt with some really moving and complex issues, such as child abuse, which definitely caught our attention and engaged the whole class. It was a book that I regularly took home to read and was desperate to find out what happened at the end. The film adaptation was released shortly after, and we watched this as a class in Year 6.
Also, ‘The Maltese Falcon’ by Dashiell Hammet is one text that I was fascinated by. Our class teacher read us a chapter or two every afternoon, in Year 5 I think. I remember him reading with such animated expressions and dramatic accents, and we would have lengthy discussions afterwards about what we thought would happen next in the text. These early experiences of reading were always positive and consolidated my interest at an early age, which lead me to take English at degree level. It has always been an activity with which I have associated relaxing at home along with watching films and television, rather than a piece of homework that I would be reluctant to do.
I think my favourite book as a child would have been anything from the ‘Mennyms’ series by Sylvia Waugh. My best friend and I used to both love these books and would swap them with each other to make sure we had read them all. The stories about a family of real-life rag dolls living in secret often dealt with quite sinister and mysterious plotlines, which would really play upon my imagination and were a point of vivid discussions between my friend and I.
Recently, I have enjoyed reading the autobiography of Stella Rimmington, who was once the director general of MI5. This genre is one that has increasingly appealed to me as I have got older and the element of mystery that surrounds the lives of the people in the books is the main appeal. This must be a theme that I have carried on from my childhood, as it is the key thing that always interested me in books from an early age.
When choosing a text to read, I suppose it is quite a random decision. If I happen to come across a book that looks interesting, I will have a quick flick through and decide quickly. Having said that, there are very few books that I have really not enjoyed reading; most of these were read during my A-Level English Literature course. We were studying writing from the First World War and I just found much of it so depressing that I would skip through the novels the reach the end as fast as possible.
In conclusion, my experiences as a reader have been highly enjoyable and made my undergraduate years really quite easy. It was rarely a chore to complete a text, and is an activity that I regularly undertake at home to relax. I strongly believe in the importance of conveying this experience to children in the classroom in order to have a positive impact on their education.