Last week, The Reader Organisation headed to Liverpool Hope University to host the Reading for Pleasure in Schools Day Conference 2012 – a day packed with talking and reading, all aimed at promoting reading for pleasure in primary schools.
Reading for pleasure is being recognised with increased importance in primary schools and creating a Reading Revolution for primary school pupils and teachers is a goal we’re working towards with the university in our Reader-in-Residence project, Hope Readers, which is bringing shared reading weekly to education students at Hope, inspiring the future generation to become Readers before they are Teachers. The Day Conference helped spread the word and significance of reading for pleasure to the teachers of today.
Staff from The Reader Organisation and Hope welcomed over fifty teachers and teaching assistants from primary schools across Merseyside for the day-long conference, which featured special guest speakers multi award-winning children’s author, Reader Organisation patron and Professor of Reading at Hope Frank Cottrell Boyce and Gill Evans and Deirdre McDermott from Walker Books UK.
Delegates started the day by getting the chance to read for pleasure themselves in some taster Get Into Reading sessions, facilitated by The Reader Organisation staff. Groups read aloud and explored some of the wonderful pieces from A Little, Aloud for Children – including an extract from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Charles Thomson’s hilarious festive poem, ‘Christmas Pudding’.
A series of engaging and interactive presentations followed to make up what was a hugely stimulating day. The Reader Organisation works weekly in a range of settings to promote a love of reading in young people, and two of our Young Person’s Project Workers, Anna Fleming and Patrick Fisher, spoke about their experiences reading both one-to-one and in groups with children in schools, and with children living in looked-after care around the UK.
Frank Cottrell Boyce had the audience in stitches with his reading of Frank O’Connor’s fantastic short story, ‘First Confession’, as well as telling stories from his own trips into schools to read with children, and expressing his thoughts and suggestions to teachers. He had some wise words about reading for pleasure in schools:
‘Learning to love books is very different from “literacy”…the two should not be confused – loving reading is about pleasure, and that pleasure being shared.’
Gill Evans, Children’s Fiction Editor, and Deirdre McDermott, Picture Books Publisher, at the world’s leading independent children’s publisher Walker Books, spoke passionately to attendees about the treasure-trove that is modern children’s fiction. With slides of some of their fabulous picture books, including Hope Readers favourites I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen and Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton, Gill and Deirdre delighted their audience with lively readings and some very useful recommendations and advice for engaging children at an early age.
The day ended with a consultation session, where we asked teachers what THEY wanted in their primary school, to help make them a ‘Reading Revolutionary School’. The Reader Organisation is in the process of putting together a plan for reading Continuing Professional Development (CPD) with teachers in both primary and secondary schools.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the Conference, the Hope Readers project or the CPD offer for schools, please get in touch with Charlotte Weber, Reader-in-Residence at Hope University: firstname.lastname@example.org.