Alison Ferguson is a tutor at learningSkills in Gateshead which runs a wide range of courses in different learning venues across the borough. Supported by Susan Greener, she runs Reading Ahead with a group who meet every week at The Interchange, Gateshead. Here she tells us about running Reading Ahead and how they use Quick Reads in their sessions. You can also read about Julia, who joined the Reading Ahead group in September.
Hi Alison - can you tell us more about how you run Reading Ahead with your learners?
Every week we look at various texts. So far, we have looked at poetry, autobiography, travel writing and short stories amongst others. Learners also have individual texts to read and we have recently started a class reader, Six Foot Six by Kit de Waal, a Quick Read, which the group are greatly enjoying.
The emphasis within the group is one of encouraging the enjoyment of reading and of giving the learners the confidence and skills to read texts that interest and motivate them. We share our ideas and opinions on what we read and look at how language is used for different purposes, depending on genre. Learners are encouraged to read out excerpts of texts or poetry that they particularly enjoy.
How did you first hear about Quick Reads?
I first noticed Quick Reads through seeing them for sale in WHSmith around the time of World Book Day. I then learnt more about them through my colleague when I started to work with our Reading Ahead group at learningSkills. We also received some copies of The Beach Wedding for World Book Night.
How have you used Quick Reads in your work in adult learning?
What I like about the books is that they are accessible to a wide range of readers yet they don't compromise on quality or diversity of text. There are many members of our group who don't find reading easy and these books are in an easy-to-read format, which helps people who may be put off by longer, more complex texts.
We have a number of the books available to our readers to choose in session, and they are proving to be very popular. All of our learners received A Beach Wedding last year and we had some interesting opinions on it! I have just purchased copies of Six Foot Six by Kit de Waal for every member of the group, so that we can read it together and discuss themes, topics and characters. I have also used excerpts of Quick Reads in class, including I Am Malala and A Street Cat Named Bob, which the group have greatly enjoyed.
What effects have you seen in your students since they started using Quick Reads?
I have noticed confidence improving in those learners who are currently reading, and have previously read, some of the Quick Reads books. It is wonderful to see them so keen to carry on reading during sessions and looking forward to starting a new title. I think what Julia said about how she now looks forward to reading says it all! (link to Julia's case study)
I am looking forward to more of the group enjoying a range of titles in future. As the books are read and shared, opinions can be discussed and preferences expressed.
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