Michael Rosen on Reading for Pleasure

Michael Rosen, who was appointed Children’s Laureate yesterday, is well known as a critic of British education policy, especially when it comes to reading and literacy. One problem that seems to be emerging is that British children are taught to read in a highly structured and specific way which allows very little flexibility either for teachers or the children they are teaching. This is a personal worry of mine because my daughter, who is still in nursery, loves stories and is starting to teach herself to read; she is motivated, as children should be, by the sheer joy of it. This is certainly not the way she will be expected to learn in school and her mother and I are becoming wary of the way we help her in case we do the wrong thing and mess up her early years in school. No doubt there are plenty of parents out there who feel the same way. Rosen has written about this issue on his own website and The Guardian carried an article stating his agenda for the two-years he will serve as Children’s Laureate:

I utterly resent and reject the notion that you can teach reading without books,” he told journalists after his appointment.

“There is a huge push on to create an environment – in nurseries, and reception, and year ones and year twos – where books are secondary to the process of reading. This seems oxymoronic to me. We must, must have at the heart of learning to read the pleasure that is reading. Otherwise why bother? You could learn phonics, learn how to read and then put it behind you and watch telly – you’re given no reason to read. There are many ways in which people learn how to read; the idea that there is one way is an outrageous fib.

Here’s the link to the article. The Children’s Laureate post is administered by the charity Booktrust.

[Edit] The Guardian’s Michael Rosen obsession coverage continues today with an interview. Read it here.

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