Today is International Read To Me Day – a day where volunteers encourage and support a love of reading.

Today, we celebrate The English Tutor, a vital partner to BBBST during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Through their online classroom, the English Tutor teachers have provided BBBST Littles with free english lessons and educational opportunities throughout the pandemic. We sat down with the English Tutor teachers, Sam and Julie, to discuss the importance of reading and the role it plays in the development of children and youth.

Reading for pleasure is one of the Search Institute’s 40 developmental assets, a list of characteristics and actions that ensure children and youth will thrive later in life. The importance of a commitment to learning in young people is essential for their development.

Continue reading to learn about how the English Tutor services are ensuring our Littles develop a commitment to learning and a love for reading.

Q: How do you inspire a love of reading in your classroom settings?

A: We think the best way to do this is to practise what you preach – we live and breath books and are always challenging ourselves to read new books so we can recommend books to students with authority. We also teach things we enjoy and then our interest and passion translates to students through the lesson plans we’ve created. Keeping up to date with new books that are linked inextricably to the current world in which students are living is also a great way to engage them.

Q: How have you seen BBBST Littles’ response to reading change throughout your time with them?

A: Put simply, we are consistently awed and humbled by the progress of the Littles. It has been a privilege to watch the Littles of varying ages connect with texts, challenge themselves to read longer and more complex passages, and confidently discuss literary devices and their meaning within the text.

Q: How important it is for Littles to enjoy reading?

A:Reading provides an incredible entrance into worlds that are not our own, where we are free to explore, enjoy, and learn from the stories found in the pages of a book. Encouraging the Littles to develop a love of reading provides them with the key to these worlds and the power to create change in our world.

Q: What types of materials do your students enjoy reading?

A:During our time with the Littles, we have read a plethora of genres, but if we had to choose just one genre or text that has resonated with them the most, it would be the collection of Shakespeare Stories. These stories are adapted versions of Shakespeare’s plays, and the Littles absolutely love reading about Hamlet’s tragic downfall or the wacky love triangle in A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Q: How does it feel to inspire Littles to be more engaged with their reading and have greater opportunity for education?

A:It is truly an honour to spend time reading with the Littles every week. The pride we feel as they find success in their reading journeys is indescribable. COVID has filled the world with uncertainty, especially for children, as their school year has been interrupted and fragmented. Our consistent program provides the Littles with the confidence and tools they’ll need to continue to succeed at school and beyond. Being able to give the Littles weekly stability, an hour or so to look forward to every week to read has been one of the highlights of our teaching careers thus far.

Q: Final Thoughts

A: Whilst we love reading, we understand that stories need to accessible in a way that fits with a child’s individual needs as a learner. If a child is struggling to commit to reading, let them listen to an audiobook. There are so many things they can learn by listening to stories out loud: tone, pause, pitch, pace, and emphasis all enrich a story.