A child from the neighbourhood is proud to go to school finally. Julia has hardly expected to attend the first grade and to be able to read a book by herself soon. She can already recite by heart or join in saying many poems and stories. She enjoys playing language games and lets her plush toys celebrate her birthday as the kitten Pitschi and its friends do in Hans Fischer’s famous children’s book (“Der Geburtstag”). Julia can laugh and marvel at the stories that the parents read aloud.
How can school help to take up this joy of language and strengthen it? It is tied to the fine-tuned relationship between adult and child and to its rich, endearing reading offer from the child’s environment. Children need a reading offer that links up with their world of experience and expands it in a positive sense, which conveys a generally comprehensible, high-class language and enriches emotional life.
Such a reading experience is dependent on conversation and exchange about what is read. This conveys a sense of reading, without that a dedicated independent reading is not built up in later years. Conversation and exchange about a text are challenging tasks. They can be solved at school only within the benevolent climate of a classroom community. They need attentive reading and listening, thinking and compassion and the courage to express themselves in the presence of others.
Also written language needs a counterpart! Talking about stories and experiences from the reading book, the children recover their own experiences. They learn to exchange ideas, feel sympathy and develop or deepen their own values. Thus, a reading text and the conversation can address each individual child and enrich its world of ideas. In doing so, they contribute to strengthen and to encourage each of the personalities in an interaction with the class community.
Reading together a text thus receives its deepened meaning in which it contributes to convey or to consolidate the values addressed in the class community. Such a reading offer is important: The reading book, with its carefully selected content, is intended to guide the children beyond the basic impressions in the family to the larger community in school, professional world or commune – as has been the task of the primary school since the beginning of our federal state and for which we send our children to the public school.
* The text corresponds to the epilogue of the new reading book “Mein liebstes Lesebuch. Geschichten, Rätsel und Verse für die zweite Klasse”, Zürich 2016, published by “Zeit-Fragen“
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