The following article comes from class teacher and Deputy Head Paul, who shares his reading journey.

I can’t remember my life without stories.  My parents always read to me as a child and I enjoyed listening to the stories the teachers read to us at school.

It was my dad that got me into READING books.  I would watch him return from his visits to the library stacked with books week after week.  One day, he took me along, and I fell in love.  Here was a room full of treasures waiting to be unearthed.  He would go off to adult fiction while I would lose myself in picture books and young readers.  Together we would arm ourselves with as many books as we could take out for three weeks and I would be so excited for the next visit!

I can’t remember the exact books I read but I have distinctly fond memories of Famous Five and Secret Seven books (I preferred the latter).  Adventures, mysteries and quests became my passion. This led to other fantastic books such as the brilliant Fighting Fantasy series!  You could control the story, battle monsters and hopefully avoid death! Oh and the Choose Your Own Adventure stories too!!  Loved them! The Worst Witch, Mrs Pepperpot and Judy Blume are also some more I remember enjoying a lot as a young boy.

Both my dad and I were slightly obsessed with the top 40 charts and he introduced me to the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles which became a staple of mine as new editions were published every couple of years.

Hours would be spent each day researching facts and it came in handy when I began collecting Abba, Kylie and Madonna vinyl.  It was such a handy companion to my weekly taping of the top 40 chart show on a Sunday night.

Eventually, I could join my dad in the adult fiction section.  He was a big horror fan and I asked him what he recommended.  He advised I start with something like The Rats by James Herbert.  Well, now this was a book! I hadn’t read anything quite so horrific but I loved it! I was hooked! I read all of his other horror stories with Shrine being one of my most favourite of his works.  Although it did keep me up at night.  I branched out into Stephen King, but it was James Herbert’s horror writing that hooked me.

My mum on the other hand preferred real life stories.  I remember her recommending Where God Comes to Weep  by Siba Shakib.  I remember being so engrossed, I read it all in one night.  A different kind of horror.  A real horror.  She also introduced me to the world of Hollywood with autobiographies from acting legends such as Bette Davis.  She would read fashion magazines that I would collect when I took up Fashion Design at University, so I guess I have mum to thank in some way for that, God rest her soul.

School played an important part in my choice of books too.  Teachers would read us Roald Dahl stories, which became a huge favourite of mine, particularly The Witches and The Twits.  I loved the silliness and the horrid characters! But I especially loved the passion that the teachers obviously had for those books.

They would laugh, cry and bring the characters to life by changing their voices.  As a teacher, I find myself inspired by these wonderful teachers and I try my best to bring books to life in the way that they did.  Your passion is infectious and if you show that you love reading, this will have a profound effect on the children who hear you.

Funnily enough, musicals got me hooked on stories too.

I remember discovering Les Miserables and Notre Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo.  I instantly fell in love with his use of historical facts and descriptions that brought Paris to life.  It inspired me to travel to Paris to hunt out the settings described and to look out over Paris from the top of Notre Dame Cathedral.  I remember reading the abridged version of Les Miserables first.  I was shocked when I discovered the sheer volume of the actual novel!  So where the first took me no time to read, the latter took me nearly half a year!  But it was a journey I look forward to taking again at some point in the future.  What a story!  What a lesson.

One of my most favourite stories from the musicals is that of The Phantom of the Opera.  Not the original Gaston Leroux crime thriller, but Phantom by Susan Kay.  This story, told from the viewpoints of all the main characters, is so much more than the original.  She goes deeper into his past, his upbringing, it is a harrowing story.  I fell in love with this tragic story.  It covers so much in the way of mental health and well being, overcoming bullies and domestic violence to finding and mastering your talents.  I can’t recommend it enough.I

I can’t remember how I discovered His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.  I think it was my partner who had been reading it, recommended it to me.  Here was another series of books that captivated my interest.  Why did I love them so much?  Once again, the vivid descriptions, the mystery, the theological questions and theories all kept me hooked.  The different worlds, coping with loss.

I can’t remember how I discovered His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman.  I think it was my partner who had been reading it, recommended it to me.  Here was another series of books that captivated my interest.  Why did I love them so much?  Once again, the vivid descriptions, the mystery, the theological questions and theories all kept me hooked.  The different worlds, coping with loss.

Reading would take a bit of a break from my life while I worked two jobs up until I began teaching.

Becoming a Teacher

Teaching would open me up to a whole universe of children’s books.  Stories would once again play a massive part of not only my life but of the children I would read them too.  Favourites would have to be Clockwork by Philip Pullman, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate di Camillo, Varjak Paw by SF Said, Anthony Browne’s picture books such as Into The Forest, Crater Lake by Jeniffer Killick, Angel Child by Larraine Harrison, with Midnight Guardians by Ross Montgomery, and The Lost Child’s Quest by James Haddell coming up next.  I could go on and on.

The wonderful #edutwitter community has been a great source of book recommendations.  My reading list is never-ending, I just hope my bank balance can hold out!

I am a book nerd!! Loud and proud!!

Books have taken me on journeys to wonderful magical lands, to meet a myriad of characters, both good and bad, to journey on quests battling creatures, collecting Horcruxes, sharing a character’s loss and grief, to ultimate joy, all from the comfort of a chair or bed.

They still do.

Author

Paul

Hi everyone, Paul here. I qualified to teach in 2007 from the GTP and have had the pleasure of teaching in a wide range of primary schools throughout London.

Having led on Curriculum & Assessment last year, I will be taking on the role of Deputy Headteacher from September this year. Children’s resilience, independence and wellbeing is my aim as a teacher, but I am also committed to making sure teachers workload is reduced, and ultimately their wellbeing is equally looked after.

To relax, you might find me running around the parks and river trails, or snuggled up on the sofa with a film or book.

Follow Paul on Twitter – @TeacherPaul1978

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