The Reading Realm Blog Series: Educators doing extraordinary things
“Until recently, I always thought of myself as a reluctant reader when I was a child, and a non-writer. In hindsight, I wasn’t at all. I loved reading comics and this was how I accessed reading for years.”
Name: Paul Watson
Twitter handle: @PaulWat5
Link to blog/website: https://thegreatbritishbookworm.wordpress.com/
What is your current position? Phase Leader
When, how and why did you get into education? What did/do you want to achieve?
After serving my time as a plater, I decided to study to become a teacher. Why did I do this? Well my girlfriend (now my wife) knew I didn’t fancy a life working away or off shore and gave me the nudge to try this and I’m glad she did. What I’d like to achieve? To be totally honest, I just want to enjoy going to work each and every day and help the kids to be better.
How do you feel the education landscape has changed since you started in your role?
I do feel the ‘data’ pressure is far greater than before, with more primary year groups having some form of data. As regards to developments in teaching, I’m not sure if there is more research-based teaching in schools than before or that through Twitter, I’ve become more aware of methods that hopefully improve my overall teaching on a daily basis.
What are your earliest memories of reading and writing?
Until recently, I always thought of myself as a reluctant reader when I was a child, and a non-writer. In hindsight I wasn’t at all. I loved reading comics and this was how I accessed reading for years. Even as a writer, I’d spend rainy days creating comics with my best friend.
How do you try and foster a love of reading in children?
Read and recommend. Bringing in books, telling the children you’ve read this and loved it, sharing chapters and asking them about their reading is a must. As I remember my childhood in a different way now, I think it is vital to share a host of text types such as graphic novels, picture books and non-fiction, as well as fantastic chapter books.
What has been your most successful reading or writing lesson or activity with children?
Recently, I did a lesson which pulled apart the fabulous picture book The Promise by Nicola Davies. As with all lessons, it is the impact that needs to occur. A few weeks later, my class had the lovely Hilary Robinson chat to us about Where The Poppies Now Grow and the children’s questions and probing into the text and illustrations proved how well the lesson went. I was so proud of them.
What advice would you give to parents whose children say they don’t like reading?
Read yourself. It isn’t fail-safe but parents, much like teachers, need to be the role models for the behaviour they wish to see.
What books do you remember from your childhood? Do you have a favourite?
Heroes of the Equinox by Pierre Christin. This is the book I remember most. It was the one that I constantly got from the library on the weekly visit with my class. In a weird way I could tell you the story but had no idea what it was called, so had to research it later in life and to my surprise it turns of that it is originally French.
What was the first book that made you cry?
That I can remember…The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
Maz Evans. The reason was more down to my personality than her writing. As a teen in the 90’s everyone had to be either Blur or Oasis so I liked neither. I’m not a fan of being told what to like, and when I first came to Twitter everyone was raving about it. Since then I’ve tried her Who Let The Gods Out series after hearing her speak and really enjoyed it.
What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?
Boy 87 by Ele Fountain. This book has stayed with me since I read it.
Have you ever experienced reader’s block?
I’m a slow reader if I’m honest. It takes a while to get through a book due to general life – racing about and doing other things. Like many people I get the holiday bundle and race through books, so during term time the pace does slow to a crawl at times.
Are you drawn to a particular genre or type of book or do you read a variety of genres?
Graphic novels still grab me. Cool comics are a must. Thankfully, my reading diet is much more varied, but I need to get on board with more adult fiction.
What book are you currently reading?
Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen.
Where’s your favourite place to read?
Which three books would you recommend to primary school aged children and why?
The Iron Man by Ted Hughes is brilliant. A rollercoaster of a story, that is perfect children’s fiction to draw out so many things for writing.
Piggybook by Anthony Browne is even more important now than ever. A close look at family dynamics with a fantastic, vivid sprawl of illustrations to explore.
Wolves by Emily Gravett. The mash-up of fiction and non-fiction makes this a great book for developing non-fiction texts with younger children.
Finally: in one sentence, what does reading for pleasure mean to you?
Enjoying your life with the experience of others.