This is a quick post, prompted by the observation of people’s behaviour on Twitter – no, not the self-righteous “I’m right because I know everything” stuff about phonics or why Early Years has it wrong or why Secondary Schools are something out of Dickens: all of this is getting tired and lacklustre, ossified opinions led by mansplainers. And since I am given to mansplaining myself, I am avoiding it here in particular. Or trying to.
No, the practice I’m picking up on is following other people’s reading – bookstalking, if we want something more anglosaxon than the title of this post. At the moment I am watching Mat read through The Dark is Rising and report inspirational phrase by inspirational phrase on Twitter; I have similarly seen other people’s reading on Goodreads. Some of them are “my” Brookes Education students and honestly it fills my heart with joy.
I love this ambiguous relationship between text, reader and the community of readers. In many periods, reading has been a communal activity, either through reading out loud or through the distribution of books in a community; it must have helped create a sense of common enthusiasm, or at least a ground for debate and opinion. It is wonderful to watch this happening in a Primary class; it was inspiring at the Oxford Reading Spree – and continues to be so, since the event was such a springboard for people to talk to one another; it is great to see people challenging, suggesting and discussing, too, at the Spree and the afterwards – but perhaps what I’m enjoying is simply watching the steps through the forest, seeing phrases I had missed in previous reading or thinking “that looks worth reading.” Not so much “Booktalk” and “Book-stalk.”
Reading, I often forget, is essentially community-based communicative activity, and the community around children’s literature is generous, committed, patient. We are not so far from the communal reading of the middle ages after all.