Reading for Pleasure by Kenny Pieper.
The full title being ‘How to Teach Reading for Pleasure’ by Kenny Pieper but don’t let that put you off. Aimed primarily at teachers with plenty of tips for how to bring to life the reading for pleasure habit yet with plenty for parents to consider too.
Read this book. It’s made me think about reading in such a different way.
After reading the first chapter I realised how much I stopped myself from buying a book because of some preconceived notion I had about what I ‘should ‘ be reading. Phrases like “I’ll never get through 500 pages on history” or “why am I considering reading about Norse mythology?” these are the kind of things I would tell myself as I browsed the bookshops
Pieper lays out exactly all the reasons why we need to abandon those thoughts , and after exactly one chapter I completely did go ahead and start reading those books. Pieper gave me a license to read books just because they look like great books, he introduced me to the concept that I am my own literary DNA. What I read makes me the person I am and that each book read builds on the knowledge and understanding of the book that came before. Sounds straightforward I know, but I needed to be told it.
I love this idea of reading as an identity, creating a personal identity through the books read. And “curling up at the centre of my geography”
“a love of reading goes hand in hand with a love of books”
But of course this book isn’t particularly aimed at me, (although I have gained much from it) it is an instruction manual for teachers. tips to help them tackle literacy in their classroom. But i would urge parents to read this – get involved! there is much you can do.
Reading for Pleasure is about liberating a passion for reading and energetically sharing that with those around you. It doesn’t have to be just books, magazines get children started
Laid out in easy to grasp chapters with a huge amount of personality from himself Pieper gets you hooked on the idea of bringing books off the page and out into life. A passionate believer in abandoning written responses to reading. Engage in discussion instead. Cogitate!.
Several times he slams the notion of teachers encouraging kids to write book reviews as a sure fire way to put students off reading. It seems ironic that here I am writing a review of it! ( I offered to write this review before reading the book btw,!) Instead he presents such innovative ideas to bring books to life to your class. There are so many good ideas here.
- book speed dating,
- book tweets,
- teasers of banned books
- getting the librarian on your side
- personal reading histories
- Reading dialogue journals
Illiterate vs. alliterate
The possibility of ‘aliterate’ young adults. They can read but but choose not to do it. Education is so intent on literacy as an achievement it doesn’t seem to be bothered that once taught how to read many kids fall through the gap and never discover what reading can do for them and are just not interested. The horror of that is worse than lack of nature connection. Is it? Kenny Pieper is the one-man superhero that addresses this fact. He defines the importance of demonstrating a positive experience with literature. Through instilling a sense of respect for reading he offers lifelines to teachers to connect with the children in their care on subjects that matter to them and how to nurture a reading relationship with his students. Truly inspired.
Reading role models
Of course there is the part of the book which is shocking – the statistics of what a lack of reading does to us, how many kids leave primary school unable to display reasonable literacy skills. But what he poses us to ask is ‘are we ignoring opportunities to put this right’ . He poses an interesting question – Is reading a class thing? and does lack of reading or just lack of books then emphasise those differences?
Just ten minutes a day of reading whatever they want
This is a plea to teachers ( and i think parents) who, in the face of S.A.T. scores or assessment results, might consider dropping the reading hour. Don’t do it!. Move heaven and earth to get an interest in reading for pleasure and books. It is a life changing art. Just 10 minutes a day can make a difference, it builds, it becomes an understanding.
And it is all about understanding. What’s read in a context of what is already understood. It’s not just about literacy and the ability to put letters into words and sentences, but a mind that understands the context of what is said.
He raves about the importance of talking about books. What engaged them as a reader? and also Why they chose to dismiss it? (if they did) again he lists great ideas to get this going in the classroom. The librarian is your best ally. Together with the library staff at his school he made the children feel chosen and excited about new books being stocked in the library.
Reading Dialogue Journals
Pieper introduces Reading Dialogue Journals as a way encouraging kids to write responses to their reading for pleasure without setting them a book review tasks. Becomes a conversation between adult and student about what they think , want to achieve.
The reading dialogue journal becomes a tool for the teacher and that child, he expertly uses it to gauge the students progress on subjects they’ve been dealing with in class , to ascertain what areas the student needs help with which can be addressed in further class work and importantly never ‘marks’ the writing so it becomes an safe place for student to respond.
E Books and a greater need to read
Of course there is always the digital encroaching on reading for pleasure and he offers some interesting insights as to how to think about this. E-readers are great to have all these works at your fingertips while on the bus but they don’t work well for a class library.
He puts forward an interesting argument that the current access we have today to so much information at our fingertips actually requires a greater need for deeper reading to sift through and judge or form opinions on that information. But also the huge positives of e-readers in classrooms as well as the increased accessibility to overcoming reading phobias to the visibly impaired or dyslexic. These can become less on an E-reader.
On the whole, I was surprised by ‘Reading for Pleasure’ and the inspiration it gave me. Kenny’s character came through so strongly that you really love him for the passion and enthusiasm he is passing to those around him. You Rock, Kenny!
‘How to Teach Reading for Pleasure’ by Kenny Pieper
Published by Crown House publishing