I have ummed and arrred for many-a day. Yes, about the correct phonetic spelling of ‘ummed and arrred’, but more importantly about the content of this post. It is customary, I am led to believe, to provide some of the reasons behind entering the blogging fray, to give the reader some idea of where the content will go and whether it is worth their time to tag along for the ride. I certainly hope that at least someone more than myself and my lovely fiancée (thanks, dear) will.
There are many aspects of my character which could offend, and it is only fair I share those openly. I am a Christian. I lean a fair way left in my political sensibilities. I am from Essex. I play ukulele. I am an Billericay Town (and recovering Arsenal) fan. Anybody yet to feel like maybe this isn’t for them? But there is one aspect of my character which, I feel, will strike a chord (there’s the uke again…) with any reader of this blog. I am a reader.
Whatever your faith or view of the world, it is clear that there are some things which are uniquely human, and one of these is the ability to lose oneself in a story. Newspaper and government reports alike, not to mention innumerable articles, books and teachers’ anecdotes, bemoan the decline of reading among people of all ages, especially children. I may well post about it myself! But one thing is certain: our voracious appetite for stories continues unabated. For many this may play out as an obsession with social media, a penchant for daytime TV, an encyclopaedic knowledge of sports or celeb gossip. Whatever makes you happy.
I feel strongly that reading is both an essential skill and an unquenchable joy. A book can transport you around the world, introduce you to wonderful characters and completely alter your views on the world. It can challenge your perceptions, toy with your emotions and leave you dazzled and amazed. As a newly-qualified teacher, I also feel strongly that children must be exposed to this experience and that we are in a position to ensure that happens.
Teresa Cremin et al., in their reading for pleasure research beginning some eleven years ago, raised awareness that teachers’ knowledge of children’s literature is not sufficient to provide the experience that children deserve. I was, and am, convicted of this myself. As a result of this, and a commitment that if I’m going to enter the teaching profession I’m going to do it whole-heartedly, @MrBReading was born (nothing to do with baking…). I have joined the mighty teachers partaking of the Goodreads #52books2017 challenge (see tab above) where I will focus largely on children’s literature (isn’t KidLit much more fun to say??), and am enjoying pestering experienced teachers on twitter chats where I try to persuade people that I am not out of my depth. You know the duck analogy? Calm on top, kicking furiously below? That.
This blog will be an extension of those two ventures. First, to promote a love of reading and share thoughts and experiences of books, especially children’s, largely through chronicling my #52books2017 experience and my picture book reviews (with teaching ideas). Second, to share my opinions on teaching and education, some of which I will find myself with company in holding. I may drift into other parts of my life as mentioned above, who knows? And the title of this post? I’ll let my hero, C. S. Lewis, explain why he valued reading, and why we should too:
‘We want to see with other eyes, to imagine with other imaginations, to feel with other hearts, as well as with our own’