How important is reading to you? If you stop and think for a moment, it rapidly becomes clear how difficult our daily lives would be if we could not read. Checking emails, reading the paper, reading the post, reading road signs (even those of us who are wedded to our sat navs still have to do this), preparing for meetings etc. All of us read all of the time and, most of the time, we are not really conscious that we are doing it. I love reading but do find it difficult to make the time to build reading into my daily routine. I guess that, like me, many of you might also struggle to make the time to read and some may even say that they are too busy to read. Others of you will be passionate readers who always have at least two books on the go!

I have spent the last week or so re-reading one of my favourite books, “All the President’s Men”, Woodward and Bernstein’s famous account of the resignation of President Nixon over the Watergate scandal in the early 1970s. Apart from being a gripping story and powerful insight into the Machiavellian machinations of politicians, political advisors and spin doctors, it is also a vivid picture of an earlier time when the only tools available to journalists were the written records of those who had gone before them, telephones and lots and lots of chasing people down for interviews. Next up on my list is Woodward’s recently published best-selling book on the Trump White House, simply entitled “Fear”.

Many of you will have favourite authors whose work you return to time and time again. For me, it is usually Vladimir Nabokov, Hermann Hesse (“The Glass Bead Game” and “Steppenwolf” are both brilliant books), Gabriel Garcia Marqeuz (for a touch of magical realism) or Julian Barnes (“A History of the world in 10 ½ chapters” is a particular favourite) but I also have a soft spot for Ellis Peters’ (Edith Pargeter is her real name) Cadfael Chronicles. I have even been known to grab one of our Asterix books which I used to love reading to our children when they were younger. Now I am starting to think about all the wonderful children’s’ literature that has been written in the last 20 years that I will, hopefully, be able to read to my grandchildren when they start to come along!

I know that we have lots of students at Kingsley who also love to read; this is excellent and something that we will continue to encourage and nurture in them. I also know that some of our pupils find reading tough because of dyslexia or phonological processing issues. They will continue to receive our support and encouragement. Whether you have a reluctant reader or a bookworm, I am utterly convinced that the more often you (and grandparents if they are present) read with your children, the better their own ability to read and acquire of vocabulary will be. Ms Gosai, our new Head of Years 7-9 and Ms Makepeace, our Head of English have created a small library of reading books in the Years 7-9 Common Room which I know is going to be well used by our senior pupils. All sections of the schools from the nursery right through to the Senior School Library have got hundreds of books that are available for pupils to read and enjoy and our new SENDCO, Mrs Jefferies is also developing a specific dyslexia friendly section of the main school library that will attract and support our dyslexic pupils.
In a world of computer games, online gaming, boxsets, on-demand TV and Netflix, it is all too easy to say that we don’t have time to read, but I think it is one of life’s pleasures to get “lost” in a book and I would encourage you all to read to your children, to read with your children and to listen to your children read. For children growing up, watching what adults do and modelling it is one of the most powerful aspects of education, so if your children never see you reading, don’t be surprised if they are also reluctant readers. Reading is vital and it is far too important for us as parents to say we are “too busy” to do it.

Whilst on the subject of books and reading, The Appledore Book Festival 2018 opens this weekend, the most prominent cultural festival in Devon attracting world-class authors, speakers and artistes for us all to enjoy. I am sure many of you will be attending an event or two. Tomorrow, Kingsley are sponsoring the Michael Morpurgo talk and next Friday we are hosting Michael Palin at Kingsley. At both events, and indeed during the Festival, Kingsley Sixth Formers Nat, Gabe, Megan and Becky have been asked to introduce some of the speakers, their literary heroes, which is an honour and something that I know they will do tremendously well. I’m sure there are thousands and thousands more children reading because of festivals such as the Appledore Book Festival. Happy reading everyone!