This session reflects on the role and place of reading for pleasure within the primary and secondary English classroom. It considers how students’ sense of what reading ‘is’ and whether or not they consider themselves to be ‘a reader’ is shaped as they progress through school. In particular, the session explores the convergences and tensions between formally studying and analysing texts with young people and, at the same time, encouraging them to read for pleasure, focusing in particular on the educational value of reading. In doing so, the session encourages reflection on what reading in school is, or should be, ‘for’, and how we can navigate the different messages students might receive about this, especially in the context of high-stakes exams, accountability culture and the wealth of other pressures on teachers. Reading is considered through the lens of identity, especially in terms of how young people see themselves, their ambitions and their potential as they move through education. The session will introduce some simple concepts from cognitive stylistics to offer attendees a way of talking and thinking about the relationships between reading, English and identity more systematically.
Dr Jess Mason Senior Lecturer in English Language, Sheffield Hallam University