I saw Francesca (Year 6) last weekend. "What class reader are you doing?" A blank stare. "What's a class reader?" It turns out that the teacher doesn't read to them. The revelation reminded me that if teachers don't read to their class and if parents don't read at home many children may never hear a good story.
It's impossible to write without first internalising the written patterns.
Indeed, the daily "reader" not only introduces children to new authors, fires an enthusiasm for reading but also teaches kids how to write. Good books act as mentor texts, so grow your own readers. There are three stages: Imitation: internalising a text type, hearing, saying, reading and exploring it.
Innovation: using the underlying patterns to create your own version.
Invention: drawing on different patterns to create something new.
Part of the answer to writing, lies in reading. Reading greedily, daily, richly and with a writer's eye.
Good stories, poems and non-fiction will gee up literacy. If children haven't experienced good writing, how on earth will they be able to write well?
Pie Corbett is a literacy consultant