Monday, 25 June 2018

What characterises a good reader?

Sam & Jessie plus book

I often ask participants on training courses what characterises a good reader. It’s not at all an easy question, and there many possible answers.

At a conference recently Ofsted defined good readers as children who can:

•  see images
•  hear a reading voice
•  speculate and predict what happens next
•  ask questions and pass comments
•  empathise and relate what they read to their own experience
•  read and re-read sentences, searching for meaning
•  continually re-interpret as they read
•  enjoy multiple meanings and ambiguity
•  notice and interpret patterns (visual, verbal, aural, thematic, figurative)
•  relate what they have read to their own experience
•  relation their reading to their previous reading experience
•  have a range of reading strategies they can draw on
•  analyse and articulate their own reading processes
•  pass judgments on likes and dislikes
•  take time to think about a text, rather than rushing to judgment
•  read texts in different ways for different purposes

The Ofsted list is useful and thought-provoking. The absence of any reference to enjoyment concerns me deeply though. As you can probably tell from my choice of photo to accompany this, I think children can be good readers even before they have learnt to read.

I found children’s author Piers Torday’s Twitter response to the Ofsted definition inspiring. Alternatively, he wrote, a good reader is also someone who can

•  laugh
•  cry
•  sit on edge of seat
•  wonder
•  think about the world
•  throw the book across the room in rage
•  feel inspired
•  escape reality
•  imagine other lives and experiences
•  close the book and still be somewhere else for a brief moment

Yes, yes, yes!