I read this in one sitting, derived a huge amount of pleasure from it and felt retrospectively proud that I had been a secondary English teacher for 30 years. I loved the interface between the personal and the professional - the (quite intimate at times) account of Kenny's own reading journey and the impact of this on his own professional practice as he has striven to inspire generations of readers over the years. He considers in particular the reluctant readers, often (though not exclusively) boys, who -˜sneer and smirk' as they attempt to avoid reading, while inside they -˜cringe and cry'.
Kenny is impassioned about the importance of reading to enable people to take control of their lives. He sees the danger of illiteracy but also what Donalyn Miller calls -˜aliteracy' - kids who can read perfectly well but choose not to. He encourages us to forget bespoke reading periods and producing lengthy book reviews or pointless posters, and rather to focus on the power of a ten-minute block of reading at the start of each lesson and the importance of dialogue between the teacher and the individual about their developing reading tastes and habits.
This book is a great combination of practical approaches to encourage a positive response to reading and strong, convincingly argued underlying principles outlining its importance. It contains a wealth of additional references for further exploration, should the reader wish to pursue them. It considers the huge value of libraries (and the threat they are currently under), the crucial need to find time for quiet reading for pleasure amidst the pressures teachers face, the role of the e-reader versus the -˜real' book, the importance of getting parents on side and of positive modelling of reading.
Kenny shows how, with -˜time, patience and love', teachers may plant seeds which will flourish in the year to come. This is a book for all teachers - not just English teachers, and it is not just about fiction - and it powerfully communicates the central message that, -˜creating the environment for children to become readers who read, because they enjoy it and value it, must be the backbone of any education.' All teachers and trainee teachers, in all subject areas, whatever their level of experience, could benefit from reading it - and to do so will be a pleasure.