Very few things, for me, are more important than reading, starting at the very roots: the ABC. After all, when you teach a child their ABC, they get the first keys to the world of possibilities. Letters become syllables, syllables become words, words become sentences, sentences become paragraphs, and so on, until the child is able to read a page, then a book, then more books.
Sure, I am saying this as a teacher, but also as a reader. The teacher that I am will tell you that there is a thrill in seeing a child’s pride when they are able to actually read, and understand what they read. And a sense of pride for me, too, because I was one of the artisans of this newfound knowledge.
Depending on the level (since I am not yet permanent), I will focus on other keys to reading for the kids. Sure, if you give me the choice, I would work with first-graders all the time because that’s the grade I prefer teaching. However, through time, I got to teach at all levels, and one of my goals remains the same: promote reading through my own readings that are adapted to their age and level.
This year, for instance, I am only teaching once a week, and even though French is not one of the two subjects that I do teach, I use reading as a tool to get the kids more involved as citizens, as humans who think through reading. My class is 5th-6th grade kids with language difficulties. My subjects are History/Geography and Ethics/Religion. The latter, in particular, is one that I really like, when it comes to Ethics, because among the subjects in the program are injustices. So I make them read the news and talk to me about it.
You want the truth? They love it! But since a 20 minutes of reading is in the schedule I make (which is true for each and every one of my classes, no matter where and which level I teach), they also get to find out new books. Not through my own readings, because I often have to tell them that my current read is for adults or for older people, but I did recommend some of my past reads that I know are more of their level and age.
And I showed them the magic of inter-libraries loans, how to search the Montreal Librairies catalogue, how to reserve books online, etc.
A world at their feet
Learning how to read for a child, and teaching kids how to read for teachers, brings the whole world at their feet, and is an important way to develop their culture, yes, but, also, their imagination. The little ones, in particular, are always amazed when they see that Ms. Caroline reads “without images”. That’s when I will often ask them to close their eyes, pick an age appropriate paragraph, and read it aloud, then ask them, “What did you see?”
And they do see what I read them, the action, the locations. They can draw them, most of the time. That’s when they realise, all by themselves, that no images means imagination. Sure, I will have started with the “when there are no images, I use my imagination, because that’s the main goal”, but that second part is the proof of it for most of the kids.
In a sense, that is also why the best is not to impose certains styles to kids, either. Sure, I do limit their comic and manga reads, but I do not refuse. I simply ask them to vary a little.
Celebrating ALL books
This is why, on World Book Day, I want to celebrate all the books: the small ones, the big ones, the fiction, the non-fiction, the comics, the illustrated stories, the non-illustrated stories, the paper books, the eBooks, the audiobooks.
Because a human who reads, no matter the means and no matter the genre, is a happy human.
Happy World Book Day!