Saffron Walden TRG – an update from Justine Lister

On the 8th October 2019 Saffron Walden County High School welcomed a range of teaching and support staff from local school to join together to promote reading for pleasure in our primary and secondary school communities. The initiative that is being led by Professor Teresa Cremin, aims to allow students, teachers and parents to feel the benefits and values of making time for relaxed reading. We all know the improvements to progress and attainment that come with reading and then subsequent testing of that reading, but what about the benefits of reading-just because?

 “Reading can help access your imagination and emotions while increasing your ability to sustain attention which anchors your mind in much needed mental and emotional balance.” Yoon Im Kane, LCSW

A student who is reading something that they have chosen to read, in a comfortable place, at their own pace, with no fear of being quizzed or questioned on their knowledge of the text, will be getting the same benefits as if they were meditating or practicing mindfulness.

To start the session and the CPD delegates were asked to look at and reflect their own reading identities and memories. Which books gave us that ‘Ahhhhh’ feeling? Which book taught us a lesson? Which made us laugh, or cry, shocked or scared? Where were we when these lifelong memories were made? You see before we can help students recognise their own identities it is crucial that we understand our own.

The OU and the UKLA are passionate about this CPD not being tokenistic or one-off. They want each teacher to trial one thing, however small, that allows students to read for pleasure regularly and highlight its many benefits to them and the wider community.

Some ideas coming into focus and to being explored at our next CPD session are: a parent and child book group, a book mark challenge, designated reading times/places, involving staff outside of the Library and English/Literacy departments and enlisting a Reading Patron.

We will also be welcoming more delegates who have signed up to join us after hearing how inspiring the group discussions were. All members have some creative homework to do as well as their own research and practice audit to guide their future projects. We look forward to sharing our progress with you all.

It is wonderful to be joining forces to spread the joy and magic of reading for pleasure.