Miss Musgrove: The Joys of Reading Week

I don’t know about you, but one of my favourite things to do is to research books to read, then visit the Book Shop and buy them, line them up on the bookshelf and settle down on a rainy wet Sunday and just read. Reading transports you to another world and you can step into a character’s shoes and live a life you may not otherwise experience.

So, over half term, it was with interest that I ventured up to St Pancras and entered the Fantasy exhibition at the British Library. It was an exhibition our Deputy Head, Miss Ashton had highly recommended to me and one worth the trek.

After my obligatory ricotta hotcakes at Granger and Co….a bit sunshine from my time living in Australia always comes back when I visit there! A wander through the Eurostar departures and the arch and vastness St Pancras provides, wishing I was off to sunny Paris. I ventured along the road, to the red brick, impressive building of the British Library, into the sell-out exhibition of Fantasy – Realms of Imagination. Not my normal genre of choice but this was exciting, so many books I recognised from my childhood and teaching. I think my favourite exhibit was the Alice in Wonderland Notebook by Lewis Caroll, such neat handwriting, and beautiful illustrations. Coincidentally, I had just listened to In Our Time on Radio 4 and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and felt inspired, so curiouser and curiouser I looked at the book. It was fascinating seeing such a historic object close-up and I imagined the excitement once Dodgson had written it for real life young Alice.

During last Monday’s assembly, as I shared this recount of my trip with the girls, I also showed them images of Little Free Libraries which have become so popular around the world, encouraging children to bring a book and take a book to read. A book exchange for the local community, which promotes reading for pleasure along with bringing a community together. Our own Year 6 girls have set up a book exchange during Monday and Friday lunchtimes, which brings much joy. (Thank you to Georgie L for the idea.)

Learning to read is a huge part of Primary School teaching and is building the skills needed to thrive in life. The skill of teaching how to read is one area of focus but we also aim to foster a love of reading – reading for pleasure. So much research has gone into identifying the benefits of reading for pleasure and it reminded me of an interesting read ‘Research Evidence on Reading for Pleasure’ from the Department of Education, back in 2012, which clearly outlines the benefits:

A growing number of studies show that promoting reading can have a major impact on children and adults and their future.
Upon reviewing the research literature, Clark and Rumbold (2006) identify several main areas of the benefits to reading for pleasure:
• Reading attainment and writing ability;
• Text comprehension and grammar;
• Breadth of vocabulary;
• Positive reading attitudes;
• Greater self-confidence as a reader;
• Pleasure in reading in later life;
• General knowledge;
• A better understanding of other cultures;
• Community participation; and
• A greater insight into human nature and decision-making.

So as Alice would say, ‘I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then.’ – Reading transforms lives.

And in Roald Dahl’s Matilda:
So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message, ‘You are not alone.’

The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives… She travelled all over the world while sitting in her little room in an English village.”

So, this week we have had ‘Reading Week’ in the Prep School – our homework has been to read books for the joy of it, picture books, fiction books, non-fiction books.

It is with excitement that we are planning our World Book Day – more of a ‘whole week’ in March. We are looking forward to the author Sophie Henn visiting us and inspiring us with her illustrations as well as words. We are looking forward to identifying the different characters on dress-up day. Quite simply, the joy of reading.

So, this weekend, read for pleasure. If you do this, your children are almost certain to follow your lead.

Sutton High Prep School

86 Grove Road, Sutton,
Surrey, SM1 2AL
T. 020 8225 3072

Sutton High Senior School

55 Cheam Road, Sutton,
Surrey, SM1 2AX
T. 020 8642 0594