Photographs of children doing things tend to be more alluring, and maybe reflect more of the activities around the theme of the workshop than the actual business of reading. But they read! A lot.
It wouldn’t be much use handing out a pack of books, however interesting and expecting our children to become immediately engrossed. They won’t. We lead them up to the idea in subtle (small) steps. Reading aloud remains the best and most effective way of interesting new readers. They love picture books – even the older children – and these are perfect for our purpose because they are short, punchy, illustrated, and often funny. If you can master the tongue-twisters, The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith is a sure-fire way to start things off – or finish. But whatever we start with has to seriously catch the interest of the audience, or they will lose focus. If the book we have chosen doesn’t work, we always have a spare in hand.
We then introduce this week’s new books in the Book Club, and there is always competition for them. It also gives an opportunity to plug the idea of joining the club, and the privilege of taking books home.
That might be followed by a more serious book, sometimes a book for older readers that they might not necessarily read for themselves. We also feature non-fiction, particularly if it lends itself to a theme. Whales, for example, could have both story books and non-fiction on the subject, maybe a playing of the songs of the blue whales.
By now, they will be tired of sitting. A vigorous clapping game wakes them up ready for the activities around the theme (writing, imaginative illustration or playing the CBN reading game, among many others.)
But after the main part of the workshop, is when they read. We are building a collection of books, slowly but surely. Each toolbox also has a collection of ‘Quiet Reading’ books. (We long ago gave up the term ‘silent reading’. It never happens.) We were lucky to have a donation of large teddy-bears from the Bikers Run last year, and these are extremely popular as comforting reading companions. And THIS is when they read for themselves. THIS is what we are aiming at. So far we have ten children sufficiently motivated to take books home (and bring them back). THIS is what CBN is all about. Reading.