Hooray! The DoE report – Reading: the next steps – gives official recognition to the idea that reading books is a good thing and that reading books matters.
Many people have always known this.
While every method available should be used to start children decoding those squiggles, to become confident decoders of text and deconstructers of grammar, it is only sustained reading that provides the exercise and practice to turn a decoder into a fluent, literate reader.
Decoding is not the same as reading – machines decode.
It is sustained reading that puts classroom exercises into context. It is sustained reading that shows vocabulary in context and juxtaposes words in new and exciting ways. It is sustained reading that shows what writing actually looks like, how grammar works and how it’s rules can be creatively broken or rearranged.
Sustained reading means reading a book from beginning to end – not a page of photocopied text and a paragraph of scene-setting.
Reading is probably the most important endeavour a modern child sets out to master.
In most of life’s endeavours, the practice required to become proficient is hard, boring and often painful.
The wonder of reading is that the practice needed to become proficient is neither boring or painful – it can be fun, exciting, terrifying, funny, sad, romantic, fantastic, silly or just plain loaded with amazing and wondrous facts and information.
Reading is a pleasure – if it is not made a task or a punishment and if the right books are found for each child. This requires the kind of knowledge an enthusiastic children’s librarian offers.
The report demands that “all children to be active members of a public library.”
I hope there are still libraries for them to go to and a few children’s librarians left who know what to put on the shelves.
Why would anyone have ever thought that reading doesn’t matter?