I’d inherited decades ago from an aunt, and after locating them, delighted in reading 1929 adverts for… treating ringworm; Brown and Poulson’s cornflour; Snowfire cream; a belted corselette; a fat reducing soap and iron jelloids − to mention but a few! The onions overcooked, causing a break in the proceedings and I saw the other texts strewn across the kitchen − magazines, newspapers, travel books, Christmas cards and letters − all sources of pleasure. Whilst I’m aware that recreational reading involves far more than narrative fiction, this abundance and diversity suddenly struck home.

I stopped to reflect. In what ways can teachers help children recognise text diversity and widen what counts as reading in their eyes? Thompson (2019) highlights the ‘living contradictions’ between what teachers consider to be reading for pleasure for themselves and the messages they give children, which she found were predominantly related to attainment and reading for progress. Creating Reading Rivers or 24-hour Reads can help to document everyday reading, though I worry that too often this remains an ‘activity’ not a genuine learning opportunity. More recently, the OU team developed an online Reading Treasure Hunt to encourage teachers, parents and children to become Reading Detectives, hunting out advertising, messages, comics, reading that makes them laugh, is precious, hidden and much more.

Reading Teachers may want to explore these and other opportunities to share everyday reading, and consider the children’s, individually and collectively, helping them recognise their engagement with any text as reading. This might lead to widening the range of texts allowed in reading time and alert teachers to noticing what the young choose to read, their transient or affirmed preferences, their practices and identities as readers.

In sum

Re-reading and reading what you choose are just two aspects of my recent experience of reading, but if you pause to reflect on your reading you’ll surely register more. Do you for example: stop and

start, pause to problem solve and skip descriptive passages, skim ahead, read across different screens, have several texts on the go, read the end of a novel before you arrive there, fall into reveries, discuss what you read, stick notes/ write in texts, not finish some books? I wonder too, to do your reading habits and behaviours vary according to text and context?

Your reflections may mirror some of Daniel Pennac’s Rights of a Reader and these can be a useful, but your own reflections will be hallmarked by authenticity. They represent your own red thread of reading for pleasure and reveal something personal about you. If you want to develop as a Reading Teacher and support the children as readers, then I’d encourage you to hold a mirror up to your own experience and practices, and to read, reflect, act and notice the consequences of your altered pedagogy and the way your classroom conversations about being a reader expand.

For practical ideas to support you, see: Reading Teacher

References Commeyras, M., Bisplinghoff, B.S. and Olson, J. (2003) Teachers as Readers Newark: IRA.

Cremin, T. Mottram, M. Powell, S, Collins R and Safford K. (2014) Building Communities of Engaged Readers: Reading for pleasure London: Routledge.

Cremin, T., Williams, C. and Denby, R. (2019) Reading Teachers: Exploring Non-fiction, English 4-11, No 68, Autumn 2019

Professor Teresa Cremin is a Professor of Education (Literacy) at The Open University in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies.

Reading for pleasure

If you want support to nurture readers, then visit the Open University’s research-informed practitioner website. It’s packed with ideas, resources, audits, videos and PowerPoints! FREE! Do sign up to the monthly newsletter to receive updates. @OpenUni_RfP Books for Keeps No.246 January 2021 17

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