I like reading, which is just as well in the job I do. I like to encourage our boys to read. I have always preferred the longer novel but I use all sorts of things to get the boys to read. They must read because the written word is still a major form of communication. Whether it is reading for meaning, information or reading for the sake of the story, they must learn to get a handle on it. They cannot be classed as literate if they cannot read adequately and success is always equated with being literate.
Nowadays we have new mediums to reach children and encourage them to read, new stories or the old classics. A lot of these books are available free on-line. We have podcasts, e-books , graphic novels telling stories in alternative ways. We can get many of the classics on-line and there are now those who publish directly into the digital environment. We have sites hosting an author who, mirroring the old style serialisation (eg Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories) and writing their story in installments on that site. Others, like the SLV’s Insideadog site has, in some instances, offered young people the chance to become even more involved by encouraging them to make suggestions for new story-lines in these serials.
Today we have so many ways to offer people a chance to feel the power of a story, to connect to a narrative. In schools, if we cannot get many of our young people to connect with the story, then we are not really trying. If we want to help them with their literacy skills we must help them make the connections.
I have been creating a list in Diigo called books and alternatives and have also put a few together, in a sharetabs group, called Engaging with books. These are just some of the many and varied sites that I am sharing with colleagues, trying to encourage them to use a variety of approaches to engage our young people. My ideal is to have them so engaged in their work that they don’t even notice the bell for the end of the period. It has happened before, albeit rarely, and it is magnificent
I have mentioned “literacy” and the meaning of that word has/is changing too. There are many different types of literacy spoken about in the educational arena. It is the amazing technological advances in the past couple of decades has lead to these changes in the definition of literacy.
The OECD PISA has three literacy definitions, reading, science and mathematics. The first definition is: Reading literacy is the ability to understand, use, and reflect on written texts, in order to achieve ones goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential, and to participate in society.
The UNESCO definition of literacy: “Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning to enable an individual to achieve his or her goals, to develop his or her knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in the wider society.”
If we want to help our young people achieve a high level of literacy, we need a high level of engagement and a willingness to embrace a variety of ways to achieve this.