What do Good Writers do? Teaching writing in the primary classroom-Part 4
The fourth action that good writers practice is that they read as widely as much as they write.
Stephen King is the man for quotes about writing. He says that
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” and another harsh one “
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that“
There are so many ways that the teacher can motivate the children in his/her class to read. You probably know more than me! But, here are some little tips to help you think about this important feature of the writing craft.
- Keep up to date with what the “young ones” are reading! Go the book selling websites like the Top 20 books-Guardian-http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/may/12/best-childrens-books-eight-twelve-years and http://www.bestsellers.ie/bestsellers-children.php and see what children are actually reading. No doubt, you will come across all the Harry Potter books and anything else vampire related but look beyond that. I remember teaching a 3rd class who were all obsessed with Harry Potter. It was almost compulsory to have a copy of the Harry Potter book on their table. I noticed one boy just left it there and didn’t read it at all. I would wager a bet that he never opened that book but was succumbing to “Cool book peer pressure” Adults have to put up with this too. Look at the fifty shades of grey syndrome? Its writing style has been slated and the content is inappropriately aggressive yet it sells and sells. Peer pressure and fad buying can scare adults too! So, what can the teacher do? You can expose them to other types of writing or books. Go to your library or local book shop and see what else is there. I would read to my 5th clas every day, even if it were just a page. After a couple of chapters, I’d leave the book in the class library. At least 1 child would grab that book as that new world had been opened to them. I had started the peer pressure myself!
- Fis Book club is excellent too. It is an online, password protected book club where children can present their own book reviews and share and connect with other readers all over Ireland.
Giving a book review as a digital recording is one of the most exciting pieces of homework a 5th class child could get if all they are used to is writing in their best handwriting. The videos could be watched with the whole of the class next day and then uploaded onto Fis Book Club. Check out www.fisbookclub.com
- Share your reading loves with the children. DEAR(Drop everything and read) is something many, many schools are using. The teacher should be part of this too. I can’t think of a better way to spend ten minutes than catching up on the book that I am enjoying too. They will feel your passion!
- When I read, I am inspired by good writing. I am also motivated by bad or average writing and think “I could do that!” When I read, thousands of new ideas for characters and situations fly through my mind. It is said that there is no such thing as a new idea, it is just the way the writer tells it that makes it different. Giving the gift of reading to a child should be up there in “Top things a teacher must aspire to” I recently signed up to www.goodreads,com It is an inline, adult social area where I can review and comment on the books I have read or the books my friends have read. Reading shouldn’t just be a solitary exercise, connections should be made through interactions and goodreads is brilliant for this. What am I reading at the minute? I am reading Nuala Ni Chonchuir Mother America. Anyone read it?