Ever have battling thoughts over what your family ought to be reading?

//Ever have battling thoughts over what your family ought to be reading?

In this blog Reading Force founder Professor Alison Baverstock talks about why reading and sharing ANY book is what matters…

Which book should we choose to share?

We are often asked by families to recommend a title for sharing. We are happy to pass on what others have enjoyed (David Walliams’ and ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ titles are always popular) and also offer suggestions on our website.

But really, it’s up to you. We think choosing what to read is part of the process of taking part, and this often works best through a family chat rather than simply announcing a choice. There are no rules. It doesn’t have to be a book everyone can read in person (younger group members can have it read to them). Nor does it have to be new – we have seen whole families enjoy titles the parents remember from their childhood.

The issue of books we feel we ought to read, rather than want to read, came home to me this past week. We have recently set up a Reading Force Research Associate Scheme, prompted by a crop of students, some of whom were RF children themselves, who are interested in what we are doing and want to be more involved. Now they are helping us get Reading Force better known; commenting on ideas for development.

One project we have right now is the development of a RF resource for teenagers, so we asked them to tell us about their reading preferences at that age. Ellis Turton, whose mother was part of our pilot project in Aldershot in 2011, and is now studying Education at Cambridge, wrote to me as follows:

…I went through a period of not enjoying reading so much in my teenage years. This was not only because it was so easy to choose other options like games or television, but I also felt that I didn’t have the freedom to read outside of the texts we were given at school. I realised that the themes of things we read at school were much more mature than those in what I liked to read, so I felt childish. I feel as though if I had known other people reading those types of books, I would have felt happier to read them myself.

Apart from recognising the wisdom with which she has emerged (how lucky are her future pupils!), as parents, publishers, teachers and families we surely need to be better at getting across a message that all reading is good, and there is no book-hierarchy. If we insist children read ‘worthy’ books rather than what attracts them, they may stop reading all together. And research consistently shows that reading for pleasure is crucial if children and young people are to become regular readers.

*Ellis Turton’s mum Terri was on our first advisory board and so used RF when Ellis was young. Ellis is now studying Education at Cambridge University. 

So our message is, with Reading Force you can share any book you choose. It’s the sharing that matters, not the reading-age suggested. From my personal experience, reading a book from outside your comfort zone, or written for an entirely different age-group, can give you a whole new insight into how others feel – as well as common ground for conversation. Which is the whole point of Reading Force.

If you would like to become a Reading Force Research Associate please email alison@readingforce.org.uk