Posted in Weekly Posts

Musing Mondays (October 28)


Hosted by Should Be Reading
Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…• Describe one of your reading habits.

• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).

• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!

• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.

• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!

• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

After my detour last week I’m back to My Life in Books.

This week I’m going to talk about reading at school….

So being a summer baby I actually started school in the term following my fifth birthday already able to read. Mum had harnessed my enthusiasm for books and with the help of Peter and Jane (and Pat the dog) I was a reasonably fluent reader by the time I started school.

Cover Peter and Jane

Inside Peter and Jane



This (sexist) reading scheme aimed to give children the ability to read words by the way they looked and as far as I can tell worked well for me (I actually had this set of books for when my children were learning to read, it worked for one, the other wasn’t interested!)

Alongside these I ‘read’ the books I borrowed from the library and then I went to school.

The first school I went to used Through The Rainbow reading scheme. I opened page one, was seriously underwhelmed by the lack of words but ok until I realised that when the teacher called my name I was expected to read to her in front of the class! No way – I was a very shy child and stuttered my way through the pages and was sent home with the book. Mum got in a tizz because I needed something more challenging and the whole reading out aloud got more and more of an ordeal so I very slowly inched my way through these boring books.

Through The Rainbow

I then changed schools to a very progressive 70’s school, animals in the classroom and grounds, and a very easy-going attitude to set learning styles. I look back and wonder how I learnt anything, but I did, and best of all there was no reading scheme! No competition about what book I was on and I went back to reading what I wanted (which was lots of different books with a wide range of ‘reading ages’) The result was a far happier young reader.

Unfortunately at 9 we moved and another change of school and another reading scheme. I think this one was mermaids but that may just have been the title I was given. Despite still being very shy, I told the teacher I didn’t need a reading scheme. They tried, I tried a little harder to comply and then they let me choose what I wanted to read from their small selection. I think I won them over by reading A Christmas Carol and managed to tell them all about it and so I said goodbye to the hated reading scheme!

A Christmas Carol

As an adult I understand that teachers want to know what stage each of their pupils has reached at a given time but my feeling even now is that learning how to read needs to be as interesting as possible and use a variety of methods. Children are all individuals! Thankfully these days standing up and reading in front of the class no longer appears to happen!

I then went to secondary school and soon realised with our first read Smith by Leon Garfield that reading it all in a couple of evenings wasn’t what was expected!


This brilliant, picaresque novel follows the adventures of an illiterate young ragamuffin known only as Smith. Smith picks the pocket of a stranger, only to witness immediately the strangers murder. Smiths booty from the theft is an Important Document, no doubt worth quite a lot to somebody, which is proved by the pursuit of Smith by two very shady characters. Smith artfully dodges them and winds up in the odd company of a wealthy blind man, who takes Smith into his home and provides him with an education. But this new comfort is lost when Smith himself is suspected of the very murder he witnessed. Goodreads

Also once again we were back to reading aloud to the class. So there I was all buttoned up into a skirt and blazer about five sizes to big anxiously waiting my turn to read my paragraph. Fortunately my surname began with M so it was a few weeks before it was my turn! By the time we got to the end of reading the book in ‘slow motion’ with set pages to be read at home and discussed at length, despite initially enjoying the book, I hated Smith with a vengeance.

Happily in time I got to appreciate the dissection of the text so by the time I did my ‘O’ Levels I could discuss phrases in Macbeth at ease, along with War and People Poems, and Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee and English Lit was my favourite lesson.

O level texts

What are your memories of reading at school? Thinking back over my experiences it is credit to my mother that the reading habit was already ingrained by the time I reached school. I can see now that the experience could have totally put me off if I hadn’t already loved books and I can’t imagine my life without books!


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

16 thoughts on “Musing Mondays (October 28)

  1. I am so grateful we didn’t have reading in class. We did have recitation though where we had to memorize a poem and recite it in front of the class, with appropriate expressions.

    The horror! We were actually graded on this stuff. Since then, I’ve always disliked poetry.


  2. I really only remember reading in middle school, specifically 9th grade. I had some great English teachers and got to read the likes of Of Mice and Men. My teacher was a woman, but she was really good at doing the voices in that book. Great post! ~Deanna


    1. You were very lucky Deanna – I did have some good teachers (at the second school I went to) and they used to read each day at the end of school which I loved, that was great for introducing me to new authors to hunt down at the library – After story time we had to answer times tables in order to be allowed to go home – happy memories. 🙂


  3. I never minded reading aloud – my father had me doing it at home from about age 3, so I was used to it when I went to school. But I had a continual battle with teachers about what books to read – they always wanted me to read stuff that I felt was much too young for me. Only one of my teachers really encouraged me to choose my own reading matter – the rest were only interested in the books on the curriculum. No wonder so many kids find reading a bore…and thank goodness I came from a reading family.

    Thanks for the link! 🙂


    1. It is so sad to think that the very people employed to encourage reading can be instrumental in putting them off for life. My daughter recounted one teacher didn’t believe she’d read the Hobbit and told her off for lying! She was made to stand in front of the class and recount the story… fortunately she saw it as a challenge and hadn’t inherited the shyness (in fact the opposite)
      You’re welcome for the link 🙂


  4. Oh, the whole “reading out loud in front of the class” thing–does anyone really enjoy that when they’re a kid? Most kids are too busy counting ahead to figure out which section they’ll be assigned to read, and they don’t even pay attention to what’s being read. Poor readers are too busy dreading being called on to pay attention–and the good readers are bored and are skipping ahead. I’m so glad that process has been phased out for the most part these days.
    Great post–I can’t wait for the next chapter! 🙂


    1. Thank you – it is a blessing that they no longer do this to children. Thanks for following my life in books…I have trouble just picking a few, so many made a lasting impression 😉 (even the dreaded reading schemes)


  5. I learned to read by listening to my Mother read to me. By the time I got to school the reading lessons did not interest me. Even though I read really well my grades in reading were not that good. Thanks for the post and for visiting.


  6. As dated as the Ladybird books seem, they do work! Three of my kids have started reading with them and oddly, they re-visit them over and over. I have very fond memories of lots of Ladybird titles (especially the ones about Maps, Shopping with Mother and the one about going to the library).

    I bought a collection of traditional fairy tales published by Ladybird. I like it because the stories are true to the originals, not ‘watered down’ for today’s sensitive kids. Fairy tales serve a purpose and the scary bits are often the best – Ladybird leaves the scary bits in *Touch the spindle and you DIE!*


    1. It was great because we had the whole set – I also used Puddle Lane which was a great series for young readers. The Ladybird fairy tales are brilliant as you say enough scary stuff in them and some of the pictures are wonderful… As you rightly say they were written with a purpose and these books serve it well. Thanks for stopping by 🙂


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