Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Love Stories: Columnists

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Love Stories: Columnists

Article excerpt

I was fascinated by the recent TES survey of teachers' 100 favourite books ("Shelf assessment", 5 April). I was surprised to find that I had read 83 of them, so my reading habits must have much in common with those of my colleagues.

I've always loved books. Our home is full of them and I would rather build another bookshelf than get rid of any. They are my personal history and I can remember where, when and why I bought them. As a principal, I was convinced that a love of reading was paramount for children, and whatever fashionable technical wizardry students were exposed to, I still wanted them to experience the sheer pleasure of a book.

I remember being thrilled by the stories my mother read to me when I was young: the joyful and insane logic of Winnie-the-Pooh; the thrilling Peter Pan; the horror of Tom the chimney sweep, trapped in a chimney and then finding happiness in The Water-Babies. Then, at infant school, I listened in delight to Babar the Elephant's adventures and squirmed at the unbearable tension of Pinocchio. Cleverly, the teacher always finished on a cliffhanger; I couldn't wait to get back to school the next day to find out how Pinocchio extricated himself from yet another life-threatening situation.

Junior school introduced me to Narnia, to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and to Old Peter's Russian Tales, filled with tree-throwing giants, princes undertaking impossible tasks and a young maiden using all her wits to escape from Baba Yaga, the iron-toothed witch. When I moved up to secondary school, I was lucky enough to have several teachers who loved reading and wanted to share its pleasure with us. …

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