'Children’s literature isn't just for kids'

Teachers need to go beyond the popular children's authors if they are to foster a love of books, says Kirsty Crommie

Kirsty Crommie

Children’s literature is not just for kids, says primary teacher Kirsty Crommie

The summer holidays are upon us. Time to take a well-deserved break, catch up on household jobs, spend some time with family and friends or maybe even do a wee bit of CPD and get a head start on the year ahead.

But perhaps if you have some spare time, how about catching up with some children's literature and exploring some of the fabulous authors and books that are out there?

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In school, we are always striving to promote the benefits of reading for enjoyment and to create an atmosphere where we can help pupils to develop a love of reading. We want to help our pupils find the books and authors that they love and, hopefully, set them on a journey of discovery that will continue through their lifetime

The benefits of reading for pleasure are varied and far-reaching, from improving attainment across the curriculum to helping to understand the world around us. It extends vocabulary, stimulates imagination and helps to develop an understanding of grammar, spelling and story structure. On top of that, it can lead to improved mental wellbeing, a greater sense of empathy towards others and increased levels of concentration. It increases general knowledge and promotes creativity. The list could go on.

Reading for pleasure

A lot of this passion and enthusiasm naturally begins at home with parents and families being able to instil a love of books from a young age by reading bedtime stories, discussing books, taking their children to libraries and modelling how to read and enjoy a book. But in schools we are in a privileged position of being able to take this further by fostering this love of books in our young people.

Reading for pleasure needs to be prioritised, valued and modelled. We need to make the time to read with our pupils, discuss our favourite books and share our passion with them. We need to regularly read aloud to our classes and create environments where children are encouraged and inspired to be excited about reading.  And that needs to start with us.

We are currently in something of a golden age of children's literature. There are some truly wonderful books being published that are aimed at young people but are often as relevant to, and enjoyable for, adults. The wonderful thing about children’s books is that they are not just for children. They have the power to transport you, inspire you, motivate you and fundamentally change the way you see the world.

There are books to suit every taste – funny books; historical novels; adventure stories; whodunnits; graphic novels; powerful, thought-provoking books; and those that are full of magical escapism. We need to know our pupils well to be able to help them select books that will capture their imagination, but, equally, we need to know the books with that same depth.

Being able to share and discuss books with pupils, to hear about the books they enjoy and to be able to go beyond Dahl, Walliams and Kinney is an absolute pleasure. To listen to recommendations from pupils and go back to them once you have read the books is a joy.

We need to value the amazing range of children’s books out there and we need to lead by example. If we want our pupils to be interested and passionate about books then we must show them that we are, too. So, if you are looking for something to do this summer, why not explore some of the amazing children's books that are waiting to be discovered?

Kirsty Crommie is a primary teacher, children's book blogger and a student at the University of Stirling, where she is doing a part-time master's degree in professional education and leadership


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