the Dragonfly journal

Reading, where do you do it?

By Stacey Hyland-McCabe - @HylandMcCabe

Where do you do it? On the toilet? In the bath? In bed?

Reading, I meant reading, what did you think I meant?

‘Dear Eric,
Why can’t I skip my 20 minutes of reading tonight?
From David*.’

Eric doesn’t exist, or does he? In fact, Eric is entirely fictional, but, he represents so much that he is everywhere. Eric stands for ‘Everybody Reading In Class’ (or ‘Dear; Drop Everything And Read’). Whatever you call it schools up and down the country are embracing this simple, yet highly effective strategy for improving their students quality of life.

I know suggesting that one idea can affect someone’s quality of life seems incredible, but, we all know there’s nothing more valuable than reading; look, you’re doing it now!
20 minutes a day, rotated around the school day and involving everyone except the receptionist (who joins in where she can) is what I’m talking about. Every student, every member of staff, everybody, reading in a classroom for 20 minutes everyday.

Did you know…

At the moment I’m supporting our Literacy Across The Curriculum co-ordinator in establishing Eric, although, strictly speaking we’re empowering our students to do it for themselves. We’re lucky enough to have 2 periods of ‘Enrichment’ each week where students get to choose from activities such as; the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme or our school play. Excitingly though we have around 15 students (not bad for a tiny Free School) who wanted to set up a reading group and find as many ways as they can to promote the power of reading to other students.

  • Playing videos in assembly of teaching reading their favourite book in weird places (in the greenhouse and on a tractor so far)
  • Getting local authors to visit the school library
  • Coming up with a word of the day (emblazoned across all computer screens for the day)
  • Counting the number of times every day they read something, anything and seeing who can account for the most minutes.

These are just some of the ideas that they’ve come up with so far.
What’s your favourite book? Mine’s ‘The Secret History’, by Donna Tartt (or, more honestly, ‘The Giraffe, The Pelly and Me’, by Roald Dahl, which I’m reading with my 7 year old at the moment). The Secret History gripped me from the start (small town kid get their chance to go to uni and try to fit in with the posh kids….) and I’ve read 4 or 5 times in the last 7 years (though you’ll be pleased to hear I drew the line at murder! Read the book and you’ll see what I mean), whereas ‘TG,TP & M’ just made me roar with laughter and, if I do say so myself, encouraged the best story-telling voices I’ve ever done! Both books have an easy to access language, but, at the same time have a special something that reels you in. Whatever your favourite books is; tell someone today (or better still; buy it for them).

“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”

Maya Angelou

If you’d like some ideas and some help and support then check out my new course (written and delivered alongside ‘Lend Me Your Literacy’) and have a look at for more ideas to improve Literacy Across the Curriculum.

*(By the way; David exists; he’s in Year10 at my school and he has a reading age of a 6 year old, which renders it impossible for him to access even the most basic exam texts or written material in any of his lessons. Eric may be too late to really help him, but, it’s a start).