Alex, 4, came home from school one Friday with a book about acorns and oak trees; he’d picked it himself from the classroom bookcase. 

With it came an exercise book and a note from his teacher asking him to draw a picture once he had read the book.

Being the start of autumn, the ground was littered with acorns and Alex had been gathering them at every opportunity so his choice of book was no surprise.  He liked nothing better than to smash them open and see what was inside.

From seedlings to saplings to fully grown oak trees, he was engrossed in the pictures and absorbing the words as mummy read them.  Asking lots of questions and pointing out things he considered interesting, he found the experience fun.

‘Now Alex’, said mummy as she closed the book, ‘your teacher has asked you to draw a picture of what you liked in this book’.

No!’ proclaimed Alex with arms crossed defensively over his chest. This positive reading experience was quickly beginning to lose its shine.

Without a doubt, how children feel about reading determines how likely they are to get on and stay on the path to becoming a reader.  And a child’s perceptions of reading are being constantly shaped by their experiences.  Pushing too hard and always expecting something in return may, over time, turn that keen little bookworm into a child reluctant to engage.

Despite our best intentions, all adults, whether supporting children at home or in school, can unwittingly reinforce unhelpful messages.

Why might Alex have not wanted to draw a picture?  How would you have responded? How 'should' we respond? Those aren’t easy questions to answer!

At Coram Beanstalk we are passionate about providing ongoing learning and development for our own reading helpers to give them the opportunity to discuss, consider and enhance their own practice.  Our latest trainer-led session provides the platform for reading helpers to explore how they can be instrumental in Helping Children Identify as Readers.

All Coram Beanstalk reading helpers are encouraged to join a session and can book on via the volunteer portal by clicking the button below.

Volunteer Portal