Learning from listening

13th April 2007 at 01:00
TES reviews and resources editor gives her personal view.

Reading aloud to children lures them into the pleasures of reading for themselves as they absorb the shape of harmonious sentences, the fun of wordplay and the excitement of a good story. It builds their listening skills, writing skills and human being skills, through empathy with the characters and the experience of an adult doing something for them that they enjoy.

So the most alarming result in The TES survey is the number of schools - though relatively small at just 7 per cent - in which teachers feel that school leaders are not supporting them in reading aloud.

What can be going through these headteachers' heads? What's not to like?

This seems to be one area in which teachers need not wait for support or leadership. Just pick a book up! Nobody has ever been fired or failed an inspection for reading aloud to pupils.

Curriculum overload is more likely to be a serious barrier, so follow the path of one survey respondent who used We're Going on a Bear Hunt in primary geography.

As one of the secondary school contributors to The TES website's pool of advice on reading aloud put it: "Never miss an opportunity to read aloud in any subject."

It is no surprise that Roald Dahl tops the read-aloud ratings. His books are packed with grotesque characters, great storylines and wondercrump vocabulary. Also, the Dahl babies who grew up devouring those subversive books that seemed so outrageous to teachers and parents are now themselves teachers and parents passing on their enthusiasm to young readers.

But the survey also reveals classes held spellbound by David Almond's Skellig and Ted Hughes's Iron Man, chortling at Paul Jennings and Jeremy Strong and feeling the chill from Neil Gaiman's The Wolves in the Walls. As long as teachers love books, reading aloud will keep fighting back.

* Book recommendations and advice, www.tes.co.ukreadaloud

"I recently read Grimm Brothers fairy tales - I teach in an all boys'

school and when I said we were going to read fairy tales they were appalled. After we discussed a few they were begging me to read them!"

Year 5 teacher, South East

"It is one of the reasons why I became a teacher. Sharing a story that you love and having the whole class gripped by every word is an absolute joy.

Unfortunately due to pressure of curriculum and Y6 SATS coming up, it's a rare treat at the moment."

Year 6 teacher, South East

"My Naughty Little Sister books always go down well. Reading a story to children was what made me sure I wanted to be a teacher: I sat comfortably with the children on the carpet, read aloud with great expression and at the end received a spontaneous round of applause from 52 three and four year olds."

Year 5 teacher, East Midlands

"My children love listening to stories. They are children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties and sometimes find stories a calming experience. It's sometimes hard to find books that boys enjoy, but they love anything by Roald Dahl, Michael Morpurgo or Alan Durant."

I teach in an all-boys' school and when I said we were going to read fairy tales they were appalled. After we discussed a few they were begging me to read them!

Y5 teacher, South East

It is one of the reasons I became a teacher. Sharing a story and having the whole class gripped is a joy. Unfortunately, due to pressure of curriculum and Y6 SATS, it's a rare treat Y6 teacher, South East

Reading to children was what made me sure I wanted to be a teacher. I sat with the children on the carpet, read aloud and at the end received a spontaneous round of applause from 52 three- and four-year-olds Y5 teacher, East Midlands

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