Increasingly, I've been thinking about reading as a social activity, not a solitary one. And I wanted to produce a personalised reading list for the students and families I have taught this year.
After all, we committed readers love to share recommendations (and warnings about awful books), and there's nothing better than discussing a book you love with like-minded people.
Let's go a little further. Study after study after study tells us that readers do better, in all school subjects, and socially / emotionally too. At the end of A Level Lit courses I typically ask my students what they have gained from the course, and the two most frequent answers relate to self-knowledge and empathy for others. So far so good, and perhaps especially important in these dislocating times.
Despite it being a little old now, I quite like the Department for Education's 2012 publication, 'Research Evidence on Reading for Pleasure' (link). Mainly because there is plenty in there about the idea of reading which takes place away from school. If just the presence of books in the house is a positive factor - and it is - imagine the power of watching the adults you love enjoying reading ...
So, increasingly this year I began to think that my reading list needed three components:
books adults could read over the summer, so that they could be caught reading ...
titles which adults might enjoy reading WITH their children, prompting discussion and bonding; and
recommendations for children alone
And this is what I have tried to produce. It's not perfect, by any means. It's based on my personal reading over the past couple of years. I haven't always aimed for 'high literature'. But as much as anything it is intended as a catalyst, a jump-start for some reading over the summer.
Lists in newspapers are often controversial, and designed to provoke debate - just today I've responded to one in a national newspaper about the best game consoles of all time! Mine isn't designed to be controversial, but I would love to hear what you think is missing, or what you think I got right - get in touch!