Books have been everywhere this week at St. Paul’s, sometimes in the most extraordinary places, as we celebrate reading week. With so many books and authors to choose from, it’s often hard to know where to start. In this article we would like to share the importance of instilling a love of reading from an early age and taking it through to later years. Our Head of Pre-Prep, Amy Clifford, explains why this is essential and what we can do, as educators and parents, to nurture it.
Books offer so much to children, from developing an ear for the music of language to acquiring new vocabulary and generating an interest in new words and their meaning. Reading books aloud to children creates an experience that transforms bedrooms and classrooms into settings beyond the direct experiences of the child. For the reader the world of the book opens opportunities for imagination and discussion, as well as empathy and understanding of lived experiences that are different from their own.
This journey of self is important for readers of any age but particularly crucial for young children as they are learning to understand their own feelings and emotions. For young children it is far easier to talk about how a character feels in a story rather than trying to unpick their own feelings over a loss, quarrel or a dispute. As children’s fictional exploration of feelings and emotions increases, their own understanding develops and they become more confident in recognising their own emotions and building a repertoire of strategies to manage their feelings.
Choosing books that help to reflect children’s own realities is also important; sharing books about a new baby brother, starting school, alternatives to the nuclear family or books that reflect ethnic representation and diversity are important to enable children to see themselves in literature and help them understand that their place is valued in the world. Children’s books are an important tool in self-discovery as well as a key to alternative and imaginary worlds. Books also help to create a sense of togetherness, whether at home curled up on a sofa or enjoyed together as a class. Shared stories unite us in a way that inspire talk and connections through our own experiences.
Reading week in the Pre-Prep School is a time where we can all celebrate the rich reading curriculum that we have in a variety of ways. This week’s focus on reading has been particularly special as it has coincided with the grand opening of the Pre-Prep library, a truly wonderful space that is now home to 4000 books and each book has been chosen carefully to reflect the interests, age and stage of the children in the school. This week the children have enjoyed browsing the books, relaxing on the cushions and reading along with their friends. We have a range of highly acclaimed authors in our selection and it is our hope that the library builds children’s love of books as well as their knowledge of popular children’s authors and illustrators.
Happy reading, now and always.