How do you make reading exciting? Just listen.

Gillian Laskier

February 21st 2013 by Gillian Laskier

I was privileged to take part in a paired reading scheme at a local school organised by Egmont recently.

I had forgotten the joy and frustration  of  being a six-year-old – my own children having passed that particular milestone a decade or more ago and enjoying a whole raft of other joys and frustrations.

Six-year-old girl reading Egmont's Dinosaur LandAt six years old, reading is simply blooming hard work. It is so much more rewarding to look at the pictures and make up your own story. Or speculate what will happen next, or might happen if an alien were to come from another planet and take Biff and Chip away, possibly for ever. Or to tell, in graphic detail, something learned from another lesson (in my case exactly – yes exactly – what happened to Guy Fawkes when he was stretched, hung, drawn and quartered – oh, and then killed).

How can a children’s book that the child may be struggling to read compete? It simply can’t.

So, it seems to me there is only one solution.

And that is all about how we listen to children read.

Reading at that age cannot keep up with the child’s imagination. The written story cannot be as exciting, graphic or involved as the stories presented in other media, or even in the child’s own mind. So, it seems to me there is only one solution. And that is all about how we listen to children read. Let them put in the effort to read the words on the page – but reward them with unbridled speculation about what might happen next, could  have gone before, or would happen if they were to be the hero – or villain – of the story.

But this one-to-one attention is impossible to deliver in a class of perhaps 30 children by one overworked teacher – with or without a teaching assistant. So, a plea to all our blog readers: go for it. Volunteer. Listen to a child read. Help. Motivate. Encourage. You will get more out of it than the child. I promise. I did.