I Do Not Like Books Any More!
How insightful is Daisy Hurst: her account of young book loving monster Natalie’s disillusionment with the whole reading thing when she starts school is absolutely superb and a sad reflection of the sorry state of beginning reading teaching in pretty much every primary school I’ve spent any time in during the last few years.
That’s getting ahead of things though, so let’s go back to the start where we find Natalie and her younger brother Alphonse, thanks to their parents and relations, relishing every book encounter. Not only that, they remember stories they’ve heard and love to invent their own too.
Natalie eagerly anticipates being able to read for herself: “When I can read, I’ll have all the stories in the world, whenever I want them,” she says.
When she gets her first ‘reading book’ though it’s not quite as exciting as she’d hoped. Her teacher tells her to ‘sound out the words’.
Natalie’s frank response hits the nail firmly on the head:
and she goes on to add while trying to read at home … “I can’t … And nothing even happens to the cat!” Alphonse is marginally impressed …
but totally agrees about the nature of the reading material, politely requesting something more exciting …
Despite her best efforts the marks on the page of the interesting books continue to ‘look like scuttling insects with too many eyes and legs’: Natalie has had enough …
She storms off to tend her poorly toy elephant with the best medicine she can think of – a story from her own imagination (aided and abetted by Alphonse).
Impressed with their efforts, Alphonse suggests turning the story into a picture book. Out come the pens and when the illustrations are ready, Dad acts as scribe and they staple the pages to make a book and surprise, surprise, Natalie finds that she can pretty much read the entire thing – HURRAH!
As someone who has always advocated and for many years, taught using real books as the medium (alongside child made ones) for helping children learn to read, Daisy Hurst’s book made me both laugh and cry.
Yes, the monster children here have supportive parents who model, encourage and support, but sadly not all children are so fortunate: for many Natalie’s experience of reading at school is ALL they get.
This a brilliant cautionary tale that ought to be read by all those involved in the teaching of reading in the foundation stage and KS1 as well as teachers in training; and, dare I say it, policy makers in the government too.