Now I know this is slightly outside my remit but reading and literature studies are one of the biggest passions in my life and something Ofsted championed in their March Review as reading for pleasure is more important than ever in schools. Children read all the time; on their phones; through twitter; their conversations on facebook but there still seems to be a reluctance to read books in some of the students I have come across. This could be a result of the instant gratification culture that we live in, meaning both children and adults alike are unaccustomed the dedicating time and effort to completing a book. I say this because my flatmate was telling me a while ago how much she was enjoying Fifty Shades of Grey and that it was the first book she had ever read for pleasure. This shocked me to the core as being an undergraduate I had assumed she read as ferociously as me.
To this end another teacher and I set up a book club with my top set year seven class and the book that we are reading at the moment is The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd. I was absolutely hooked. I started the book at lunch time and had finished it within the same day as I just could not drag myself away from it. It is very similar to A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time with a boy whose brain ‘runs on a different operating system’ to those around him and through his eyes the reader learns so much about his coping mechanisms, particular twitches and most poignantly the budding relationship with his teenage sister. Beautifully written, it explores the struggles and successes of a boy, Ted, on the spectrum from the intimate perspective of his own mind.
It is compelling reading but what touches me even more is how engaged these kids are as they discuss and comb through each chapter. Our bookclub is very informal and only structured by a few probing questions from myself, the rest is them examining the themes, developments and images throughout the novel in a remarkably dialogic and expressive way. Those who were not confident in reading in the initial few sessions now race to read sections aloud to the rest of the group and often a queue forms in their eagerness to discover the next part of the story which is just fantastic. One thing that has developed as our group continues to read a number of books is how our sessions are often punctuated with ‘this book reminds me of…’, ‘If you like this you’ll love…’ which shows they can make that jump between novels of similar styles, themes and content as well as encouraging others to read widely and develop and appetite for reading for pleasure. I could not have asked for more and still enjoy discovering new books to share and discuss on any platform.