Monday, November 25, 2013

Michael Morpurgo is right - Storytime in schools shouldn't purely be something for Nursery, Preschool and Reception classes

Reading to children - One of the most rewarding experiences ever? You betcha!
Michael Morpurgo has long been a legendary figure in children's books so who better to act as a spokesman for ensuring that reading to children goes on in schools way past nursery, preschool and reception. 

We were quite shocked to find that Charlotte's school treats reading purely as a means of improving literacy now that she's reached year one. There are (woefully infrequent) visits to the school library but no story time, certainly no teachers-reading-to-children story time and that's pretty surprising really. 

Many other parents (thankfully) ensure that children do get plenty of opportunities for story time out of school, but it feels odd to think that school is somewhere children spend such a huge amount of time, but are missing out on what I believe is a vital part of contributing to who they are and who they will eventually become. 

Surely through stories we discover more about the world, and a lot more about ourselves - and of course in story sessions where children can contribute and interact with the storyteller (the best type of reading aloud) they get to discover a little bit about their peers too. 

If by some sheer stroke of luck I was ever in a position that I didn't need to work long hours to pay the bills, I'd gladly volunteer to read stories to children in schools for the sheer love of it. Being given the opportunity to share stories, and perhaps give children who have little or no love for books at home a few glimpses into what they're missing out on would be a far greater achievement than crunching code or ensuring that yet another person gets to spend a huge amount of money on some vanity computer purchase. 

To those schools who do nurture an environment where story time goes on beyond the age of 5, I stand up and salute you. You are bucking the trend where academic excellence is seen as the only measure, where testing and parrot-fashion learning are seen as the only choice to ensure that we won't be left behind in some nefarious skills 'arms race' that seems to be the way the government would like things to be. The same salute goes out to Michael Morpurgo and all the storytellers, illustrators and book folk who also believe the same thing - children need stories, and that need does not evaporate as soon as they hit 5. 

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