Thursday, 8 March 2012

Cheers for children's reading - with a healthy dose of spinach and strawberries

Today I'm in Stirling, giving a keynote speech at a conference of literacy specialists. I used to regard myself as a literacy specialist, one who especially specialised in reading difficulties such as dyslexia, but it's a while since I spoke about it very much and I don't feel expert any more, although you never forget what you feel passionate about, and I do feel passionately about reading. However, once I established that I was not going to have to talk about certain things I'm allergic to - initiatives, statistics and the Curriculum for (So-Called) Excellence - I was happy to do it.

You might be interested in a recent article in which I talk about strawberries, spinach and children's reading, for Bookbrunch. Bookbrunch asked me to do this in connection with the Scottish Children's Book Award. Thank you, Bookbrunch! I then, by chance, met one of the founders, Liz Thomson, at a dinner last week, where I was the guest speaker. I'd met Liz once before, at the opening party for the Edinburgh International Book Festival, when she and Nicholas Clee had recently had the idea that became Bookbrunch and I remember talking to her about it then.

David Robinson, books editor of the Scotsman, did a nice piece on how children cheer more wildly for books than adults do. Or, at least, that was my interpretation of it!

I'm still not really here, of course. Doing a good impression, though, aren't I?


catdownunder said...

You are not here? I thought you were! Three cheers for children who read too!

Katalin Havasi said...

Aye, passion is the best motivator.

Congrats, Nicola!

Johanna Nield said...

I love the spinach and strawberries analogy, and thoroughly enjoyed reading about the children's reviews.

Your tour sounds wonderfully diverse and interesting. Will you be blogging in full detail about the various events, on your return?

I'd love to pick your brains on the subject of dyslexia, especially with regards to the challenge of engaging a possibly dyslexic child in the joys of reading.

Nicola Morgan said...

Johanna - actually, I've been thinking about creating a new blog for things like that, and random authory things. I always hold back from that general/personal stuff because I feel I'm supposed to be focusing here on the "how to write/get published" stuff.

Dyslexic kids and encouraging reading: need to find things that feel easy and look short. Length can be incredibly off-putting and exhausting. Need to TRY not to push - lots of easy stuff is far far far better than one difficult book that the reader struggles with. Try Barrington Stoke books. Focus on feeding hunger rather than force-feeding spinach. Also don't dismiss audio books - story is story whether heard or read.

Does that help at all?

Johanna Nield said...

Nicola - thank you so much for your suggestions. We're a family of avid readers, yet we're struggling to engage my six-year-old grandson in the joys of reading. He's very bright, a whiz at maths, and extremely dexterous, but he's a year behind in reading and writing, and school have murmured about the possibly of dyslexia but say it's too early to tell. I've just googled the Barrington Stoke books, and I've seen a few titles that might appeal to him. Thank you!

As for the additional blog - it will be time-consuming, as you know, but I'm sure I'm not the only reader who would be interested in following your random authory stuff ;)