Reflections on the Oxford Reading Spree - Part One

Earlier this year I attended the Oxford Reading Spree at Larkrise Primary School. The event was organised by one of the teachers of the school, Mr Ed Finch.  Mr Finch is a very passionate teacher. Larkrise and its pupils must feel blessed to have him.
I wanted to go to the event because Mary Roche was giving one of the keynote speeches.  I am a huge fan of Mary, having ‘met’ her on Twitter and discovering her brilliantly influential book.  After I booked my ticket I discovered the author Mini Grey was also going to be there! Wow!
I am going to share with you what I learnt from the day over the two blogs. It truly was inspiring. Imagine the passion the people who attended have for their jobs…teachers and librarians giving up a sunny Saturday!

First up is Simon Smith whose twitter bio reads: ‘Principal, Learner, mad about children’s books, father, Mood Pendulum.’

Simon gave us a book history of his life. He shared the first book he owned, which he said was very important to him and the only book in the house at the time, and which was given to him by his Aunt. He told us that his father had left school unable to read, so when he saw him reading Watership Down on a holiday in Cornwall he picked it up as soon as his father had finished it. It is important that as adults we show children that reading for pleasure is fun. Simon said we should be “Reading role models.” And we need to “Make sure books are important.”
Simon told us about an influential teacher who unbelievably was called Johny Meth. Mr Meth dressed in black, wore sunglasses, (in the classroom) smoked (in the classroom, as “all teachers did back then” he said) and sat with his winkle picker clad feet up on the desk in his classroom which was in the crypt of the school!! What an image this description creates.
It was really nice to hear my values shared by such inspiring, knowledgable and respected professionals. I have written a couple of blogs about How to Improve Your Story Telling and Storytelling - Setting the scene which you may have already read.
In my blogs, I talk about some of the same things as Simon did. Both Simon and I think that you should “Be a reading expert.” And that you should “Know your texts really well.”
I will leave you with a book recommendation from Simon. ‘That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown’ by Cressdia Cowell and Neal Layton. And a final quote “Enjoy reading.” 

You can find out more about the Reading Spree here  Since writing this blog I have presented workshops at the subsequent sprees. 

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