Reading Aloud

I’d like to welcome another guest blogger, Sophie! She’s a lit graduate living in Oxford who  likes books, tea and ambitious cakes. Plus, she works at Wiley and volunteers her time with Wiley’s volunteer Reading Aloud Group (the focus of this post).

Forever reading!

Many of us (probably every one of us reading this blog) are more than happy to own our love of reading.  We’ll talk, write and blog about the books we adore for as long as anyone can bear to listen to us.  If any of you are like me, you’ve been this way ever since you first discovered the joyful madness of Asterix and Obelix as a five-year old.

Unfortunately, this is not the case for a great number of children.  Books can seem difficult or boring – no comparison with the instant brilliance of a video game or the television, for example.  Books offer puzzles; demand constant engagement before offering rewards.   For children who struggle with their reading and writing skills or whose first language is not English, books can easily – and understandably – become objects of dread.

Here’s where our unbridled enthusiasm comes in handy.  I’m part of a small group of volunteers belonging to the Reading Aloud scheme, a cooperative effort between my employer, Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, and the nearby St Francis CofE Primary School.  We give up one of our lunch hours a week in order to visit the school and read with children who are, for whatever reason, struggling to reach their expected reading targets.

It’s hard at first.  Leaving the bright excitement of a music or computer lesson in order to sit in a quiet library and read is a tough ask for the average seven-year old.  Especially when every third or fourth word is a stumbling block.  But slowly, things start to perk up.  Sentences pull together a little more smoothly; a long word is remembered from last week; a silly character draws out a laugh.  Eventually come the moments when you realise you’re listening, not correcting, and you’re the one smiling because the seven year old sitting beside you has turned out to possess a somewhat hilarious “Mrs Crocodile” voice (no joke – one of my readers is definitely headed for the stage).

It’s been a long time since I first picked up Asterix the Gaul, and almost as long since reading became as natural and necessary as breathing.  I’d never thought that watching a child take slow, careful steps towards something I can’t imagine living without would be more rewarding than finishing even the very best of books.

I found a quote from the Wiley website discussing the Reading Aloud scheme.  “The goal of the programme,” said Al Bertrand, SSH Books Editorial Director, “is not only to help children with their reading but also to show that reading can be fun, not just something that the teacher makes you do.  For many of the children reading is not a part of their home lives, so we hope we help by demonstrating how important reading is.” 

I know other publishers around Oxford participate in schemes like this. If yours doesn’t, why not start a group? If yours does, write about it in the comments! You can also view a series of Reading Aloud videos by Michale Rosen if you need some inspiration.

One Response to “Reading Aloud”
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  1. […] awareness to this global problem, there is still a lot of work that can be done on a local level. Reading Aloud groups who work in various companies, schools and prisons place emphasis on showing children and […]

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