Another week comes to a close in some sunshine and warmth. Autumn has not yet taken a grip on the weather and for that we must be thankful. Trips and visits and the customary busy nature of the start of term has yet to bed down into the routines of the school year. It is always a challenge to get everything back into full swing but it does eventually happen.
At the outset of the school term, we look to establish, and in some cases re-establish, the foundations of the children’s learning. One of these building blocks is reading – not only “decoding” the words, but also understanding the meaning of the words, sentences, paragraphs, passages and stories that they encounter. Ultimately they will read freely, whether it is text books, magazines, manuals, webpages or books that they enjoy. What we wish for them, more than anything, is that they will embrace all that they read and, in particular, become wrapped up in the stories and tales that unlock all manner of worlds and adventures, emotions and feelings and the teaching of important lessons.
One American author, Mac Barrett, has beautifully captured this need for fantasy and imagination within his books, drawing children deeper into stories by bringing them alive – sometimes quite literally.
With a very pragmatic 5 year old son at home, we were quickly becoming familiar with the world of Lego manuals and fact-based guide books (particularly Star Wars and Marvel Super Heroes). Thank heavens, therefore, for our teenage daughter’s old box of Roald Dahl books. Reading them to him at night (no, my son is not a free reader…yet…and my advice is to skip Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator – not enough pictures!) he has been woken up to a world of imagination, flights of fancy and surreality in which Dahl was a genius and which children love so much.
Although not all stories are fairy tales with happy or straightforward endings (and remember fairy tales were never straightforward anyway…just read the Brothers Grimm!), they are reflective of life and the challenges that our children – and ourselves – face in our lives. They entertain, make us laugh or cry, or think, but the ultimate value in a well-crafted story is the impact that lasts throughout our lives.
Here is Mac Barnett from the TED stage. He puts the case so very well.