The right to read…

I’ve been taking part in a Right to Read scheme for several years now. My employer lets several of us out for an hour in business time in order to visit local primary schools in Bradford. We get allocated a couple of Children and spend 15-20 minutes with each of them reading to us from whatever is in the contents of their book bag.

The idea, of course, is to boost their self-confidence in reading out loud on a one to one basis. It seems that many children don’t get any opportunity to read outside of the school environment, generally through inability or indifference by their parents (or carers). Sometimes it is benign, as in them not being able to speak English or perhaps just a chaotic lifestyle.

Anyway, I’m now into my third year at the same school in a well ordered, supportive routine. (Earlier schemes were much more chaotic, with random children being offered to us each week and scrabbling round for rooms & books). I’ve had the same boy reader from year three up to year five, but I’ve had three different girl readers though, as the first two moved away and left the school.

Another fringe benefit of slightly older children is more interesting books for them to read, they have migrated from the Biff, Chip & Floppy Kipper stuff.

We received an appreciative letter from the school the other day, telling us how our readers have progressed. My boy reader had moved up from 1C to 2A, apparently a jump of six points. (It is a big scale though and he still has a fair way to go). When he started he used his finger to follow the words and would make up or ignore words he couldn’t read. Now he reads with confidence, but the interest peters out as time goes on. I didn’t really feel that my efforts added too much to his big improvement ¬†as he was frequently off school sick, or occasionally on special behaviour management classes. It also didn’t help me being laid up for two months with a broken leg!

David (Grey) has started reading out loud to us as part of homework. He is a challenging reader though, as he asks for definitions of words he doesn’t know (& sometimes we don’t know them either, dictionary.com is our friend). Like all children, they often read out what they guess it to say rather than what is written down and it is when the punctuation doesn’t quite fit that they realise it is not quite right.

I’m a compulsive bookworm, I always have something nearby to read if I’m not offline. I’ve spent time at the school reading some of their books if one of the children is off sick (I’ve even been invited along to the hall to participate in line dancing and Bhangra). I can recall something in the front of one of my own childhood books, but can’t place what it was.

“In books lie knowledge… In knowledge lies wisdom”

I don’t think it was a Beano Annual, either.