a new fixation …



A couple of weeks ago I was walking home from football practice with my son and our conversation turned to reading for pleasure and language acquistion (… though maybe not in quite those terms).

The conversation stuck with me. I wrote a blog post in my head as I did the washing up. But then time and events took over and the conversation was forgotten.

In the meantime reading  – both intensive and extensive – came up a couple of times in a couple of different contexts. A blog post.  A twitter exchange. A conference proposal. And the conversation bubbled back up to the surface.

Back at football practice with notebook and pen in hand I jotted down what I could remember, more or less word for word, or as close as I could.

But first, some backstory. About a year and a half ago my son got the reading bug. He found and latched onto a series of adventure stories that fired his imagination. He’s a collector and over the next nine months he’d collected 36 books. Now he’s moved on to a new series (Wolf Brother in the image above is the first book) and once again he’s hooked. As well as a collector, he’s a sharer, He wants to talk about the new books, about the world they conjure and the experience of reading them. So he persuaded me to read the books too.  Hence our conversation:

– Have you got to the bit about the clans yet?

– yeah, I have

– Do you know what clans are?

– yeah, groups of people who live together.

– Did you know about clans before?

– yeah

– I didn’t. When I first read it in the book I didn’t know what it was – but then it came up again and again and I started to understand

– yeah, you kinda learn it slowly …

– and you know there’s a word you didn’t know before but then you learn it and you start noticing it everywhere. Like I learnt “kin” in the book and then you used it when we were talking at dinner

– yeah, amazing that …

– yeah, it’s like it was always there but you don’t notice it until you’ve learnt it …

So now I’m hooked too – to the books and the great conversations we’re having about them!

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to a new fixation …

  1. Oh I SO know what you mean! TOTALLY!
    First my boys and I shared the books I read to them and we talked about them.
    Round two is when (during the teenage years), from time to time, I read a book from their book shelf. They recommeneded which ones they think I would enjoy – they know me! My husband does it too. I still do that a few times a year.
    Now we’ve reached round three, this is brand new. My youngest, the 18 year old, has started reading books off OUR shelves and asking us for recommendations! A whole new wave of discussions! Different kind though.
    Such a pleasure at each age to share a love of reading with out children!

    • Ceri Jones says:

      Hi Naomi,
      Just caught up with your comment. It’s fun to move from round one to round two. I’m now on the second book and trying to second guess what’s comingup next. My son said the other day “don’t think – just read!” 🙂

  2. Lovely post. It’s something I’ve got to look forward too with my wee sprogs.
    By the way, do you ever get the sensation that Spanish schooling (and not only Spanish) kills enthusiasm like this?

    • Ceri Jones says:

      Hi Alan,
      So sorry for not replying sooner – I don’t know how I missed your comment. Christmas holidays I guess 😦
      I really loved the bedtime story phase too – especially as we graduated from one-off stories to reading things like Harry Potter or Roald Dahl in nightly instalments. And does school kill the enthusiasm? I don’t know – not necessarily, though my son’s enthusiasm is for books in English – ones that have been recommended by other bilingual or English-speaking friends – and he hardly ever chooses to read in Spanish (his schooling is in Spanish) – but they have a class library that consists of books the kids bring in to share and I think peer recommendations do work better than the teacher imposing a reading “regime”. My son’s borrowed a couple, and read them kind of dutifully – a duty to his classmate/friend who donated the book – but has never enthused in the same way as he does about this particular series and other books he’s read in English.

  3. Beverly Whittall says:

    Hi Ceri,
    I’ve just seen this post – I’ve been mulling over extensive reading for a while now and how to get more of a reading for pleasure culture going in our school – for the language acquisition benefits, of course, and because we have a staff room full of teachers who love reading and would be great reading models, so to speak. I’ve been thinking about upgrading our school library (long overdue), and, before going to great lengths to set up book clubs, just starting with short slots on lessons, in which students can choose books that most interest them, then come together at another moment to share what they’ve read – some ‘book gossip’ (I love this term – not sure where I first heard it), make some recommendations, then hopefully pick up another one – a virtuous reading circle! And this is exactly what happens in real life, in our staff room!

    I think choice is very important – I remember ploughing through some books in school, which I would have put down otherwise, only because I had to write a book report on it, or be tested on it. Have you read the Book Whisperer by Donalynn Miller? Sounds like your son’s teacher is doing something similar to her, with the class library.

    • Ceri Jones says:

      Hi Beverly,
      So good to *see* you here 🙂
      I love the idea of the short slots – a kind of Drop Everything And Read programme I guess. And I love the term “book gossip”, I hadn’t heard it before and now that I’ve learnt it I’m going to use it all the time! (credited of course 😉 ) I realise I’ve used it in fact – taking curious looking books into class, just leaving them on the desk, seeing if anyone’ll say anything. Do you know The Men Who Stared at Goats? That started a great conversation with some teenage boys.
      I haven’t read the Book Whisperer but I’m going to look for it on Amazon now. I’m preparing a talk on extensive reading for TESOL Spain next month. Sounds like it’d be ideal for that. Thanks!

  4. Beverly Whittall says:

    Just had a quick look in Aidan Chamber’s ‘The Reading Environment’ – please credit him with the term ‘book gossip’! This and another of his books, ‘Tell Me: Children, Reading and Talk’, are two very interesting reads as well.
    I like the idea of taking interesting looking books into class – and I always ask students what they’re reading, what books they recommend. I’m only teaching little ones at the moment, but in previous years I’ve read some interesting books thanks to my students!

    • Ceri Jones says:

      Thanks for a couple more really useful references!
      I’ve taken some kids books into class too sometimes – Room on the Broom, The Snail and the Whale, that kind of thing – gets conversations going with younger kids too – or the ubiquitous Harry Potter – haven’t tried the Wolf books yet … might experiment with that one soon – getting them talking about what they’re reading in Spanish is good too, I think, anything that gets the conversation round to books – and enthusiasm for books must be good, right? 😉

  5. Pingback: loop or lope? | close up

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s