Sunday, 20 December 2015

Book I've read more than three times????

Oh dear where do I start on that one? How long have you got?
You see I was a teacher in another life. We have to read books more than once as part of our work - well, I did.
I once worked in a school for children who were profoundly physically and intellectually disabled - or so their assessments would have had me believe. Some of the children were more intellectually able than their assessments made out. There is always a problem with trying to assess children who can't hold anything, who may have a problem holding their heads steady even when they are being held in a sitting position with numerous bits of tape and velcro. 
I read a lot of books to such children. They were simple picture books. The simplest Dr Seuss books were favourites. I read those hundreds of times - and no, I don't exaggerate. 
And I read slightly longer books to some of the more able children. We read nursery rhymes and we read "The Story About Ping" and "Make Way for Ducklings", "Whistle for Willie" and "Where the Wild Things Are", "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" and "Madeline".
And in other schools I read other books to other children. I read Alan Marshall's "I can jump puddles" and Colin Thiele's "Sun on the Stubble". I read "The Hobbit" and "The Dolphin Crossing" and "Goodnight Mr Tom" to one class after another...and other books too. When we did the Boxer rebellion I read them "Tulku" - a book brought sharply into mind with the recent death of the wonderful Peter Dickinson.
Friday afternoons were sacred. It didn't matter what else had happened during the week we had "a chapter" (or perhaps two if they were very short). They would sit there in absolute silence unless there was a joke being told by the author. 
Did I find it dull to read these books over and over again? No,  because the reaction to them was always new. The book would be new to the class or comfortingly familiar for some.
And I always made sure that somewhere along the way I read them Randolph Stow's book, "Midnite".
And there were lines in there that never failed to raise a laugh. Midnite, a not very bright Colonial cowboy, asks Khat - a very bright Siamese cat - what a typewriter is. Khat replies, "It is a machine for writing books. A hundred years from now people will be preposterously lazy."
Now, isn't that worth reading three times - or even more? 

No comments: