The Magic of Reading - authored by Y6 Teacher Lisa Burns
Year 6 Teacher Lisa Burns from East Boldon Juniors is passionate about reading for pleasure and helping children discover the magic of books. Here, in our teacher guest blog, she shares with us the childhood moment that inspired her love of reading and the strategies she’s implemented in school to help her pupils find their reading spark.
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love reading. As a primary school teacher of eleven years, I know that I am lucky that this was the case and that reading came easily to me. Reading makes such a huge difference to a child’s life chances and reading for pleasure offers so many benefits for personal development and wellbeing.
It will come as no surprise that because I love books and reading, I love libraries. These quiet havens for the keen reader hold a special kind of magic and no library held more magic for me than the one of my childhood.
It was a beautiful old building, nestled in a leafy suburb, and I loved entering through the wooden double doors with their large, brass handles and stepping into the corridor – non-fiction and adults’ books on the left, my sanctuary on the right. I don’t remember the first time I visited and I’m sure my dad used to help me choose my books, but I remember the freedom to decide what I would devour next. One of my most vivid memories was the day I returned from school to see library books laid out on the armchair and my mum smiling as she told me that the library now let you borrow eight books at a time.
Now, as a Year 6 teacher and English Lead, I want every child to experience their own sense of magic every time they pick up a book. For me, there is nothing like being immersed in the world of a good book, joining the characters on their journey and escaping from your own reality for a while.
I know that for children who are like I was, their magic has probably already been found. For those who find reading more difficult or less enjoyable, I know that it’s about finding the right kind of books to light that spark. It’s also about building their confidence in reading, comprehension and fluency, and Reading Plus is a huge part of that. The children love the opportunity to read on their tablets and the variety of reading material that they can choose from. The short pieces of text followed by a few relevant questions build their competence and confidence in approaching formal tests.
I was lucky enough to participate in the South Tyneside Teachers’ Reading Group last academic year, run by the Open University and UKLA based on their reading for pleasure research. This group totally transformed my understanding of reading for pleasure and inspired me to build a real ethos of reading for pleasure in our school. We have created mini-libraries and reading areas in our classrooms, got excited about sharing a story at the end of the day with a wide range of class novels, recommended and reviewed books and inspired children and adults to talk about the books they are reading. It has been brilliant to see children light up when they speak about the books and authors that they like and to hear others say, ‘Oh, I love that book too!’ or, ‘Can I borrow it when you’re finished?’. Our next adventure is to design our reading rewards to utilise our recently received book vending machine, fundraised for by our amazing PTA.
My Year 6s are already keen readers and I love hearing a whispered, ‘Yes!’ when I say that we are reading another chapter of a book we are reading. I love hearing them talk to each other about what we’ve read and what they think will happen next. I love having them run up to me in the playground and tell me about what they’re reading and promising me that they’ll lend it to me when they’re done.
Most of all, I love the magic of reading and I want to inspire as many children, and staff, as possible to love it too.