Part One – Written Texts
When I was young, I learned to read easily. Entering school at age 4 I could pretty much recognise all of the phonemes and read steadily. I loved stories and my mum read them to me every night, after a while enabling me to take over and read back. Teachers were pleased at my love of stories and I soon began to enjoy finding out about things too with children’s encyclopaedias and instructional books. I didn’t really need to practise my spellings and was soon able to spell quite challenging words. When I think about my own learning process I remember enthusiasm being a big part of it. Largely, though, the learning to read and write was independent after that initial introduction to the mechanisms behind sounding and blending.
Recalling a teacher reading the BFG with brilliant regional accents and another reading George’s Marvellous Medicine, I was soon hooked on Roald’s stories. Dahl was a regular feature in my education and a year five teacher really brought to life the Grand High Witch with a super German accent. Roald Dahl remains a huge influence and I am pleased to see his work being changed into theatre productions and movies.
But at secondary school English was taught in a more boring way and often became a bit devalued. I lost my love for books as some of the choices forced upon us just did not sit well at all. Some of the texts were dragged out over weeks and months. For example, we spent a whole year looking in minute detail at, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ but it was not worth such careful scrutiny. Not to say it wasn’t good. But it was my year eleven English teacher who reawakened my love of books. She liked and recognised my short, concise approach and I ended up choosing to do an A-Level in English with her and really pick apart the language of humour, narrative and the media. I owe a lot to her – Mrs Senior.
She introduced me to Shakespeare with MacBeth and made me see that Jane Austin was clever and insightful. Mrs S told me I would make a good journalist and could probably write a damn good book. Thanks to her I have now taken writing into my life and now who knows where that may bring me.
Roald Dahl started me reading. Who inspired you?