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Nikki Gamble – Exploring Children’s Literature

This is a task for first year students who are studying Primary Education 5 -11 years.

You have been asked to read and consider the ideas in chapter 1 of Exploring Children’s Literature by Nikki Gamble. In this chapter, Gamble refers to Chambers’ writing on the idea of the ‘enabling adult’ and the opportunities they have to:

  • influence book selection
  • make time for reading
  • encourage responses

In relation to reading, what enabling adults did you meet growing up, and how do you feel about being the enabling adult yourself? You can respond with a comment here using your name or you can post anonymously. Or, make a note of your thoughts and share them in session with your tutor next week.









15 thoughts on “Nikki Gamble – Exploring Children’s Literature

  1. There are two enabling adults who come to mind when thinking about who influenced me growing up. They are my mum and my teacher in Year 6 who happened to also be the year leader for literacy. My mum and I did shared reading almost every night when I was very young to get me interested in books. My Year 6 teacher filled any spare gaps during the day with reading aloud and then our curriculum based work would sometimes be based on that current book to keep it engaging. Every book would be different, which I will keep in the back of my mind as I become and enabling adult as it made everyone feel welcome and intrigued. She would also ask us to make up silly voices for different characters which is a great technique to keep it inclusive.

    With the help of these techniques that I know worked from a child’s point-of-view, I am moderately confident in becoming an enabling adult, however I feel that with practice and a better knowledge of good relevant authors, my confidence will heighten.

  2. It sounds like the adults around you had positive attitudes towards literature and knew the value of reading Emily. I think you have been lucky to be influenced by these enabling adults and the contribution they made towards your own enjoyment.

  3. It really highlights the responsibility a teacher has as one of, if not the most important enabling adults in a child’s life when you are teaching them. This is displayed in the author’s reading history when she is placed in the ‘remedial’ reading group at school, leading her to completely avoid the lesson. In linking with the curriculum, the stance is clear that a development of love and want to read must be encouraged so it is important as an enabling adult that you are acutely aware of each childs interests to further progress and strengthen positive feelings towards reading.
    You would hope that reading is also encouraged by those other enabling adults in a childs life and the work carried out in school continues to be supported in the home environment. I much like Emily had family members who read to me and I would create pictures in my mind of what I thought the scenes from the pages would look like leading to an active imagination!

    1. This is a very thoughtful response Ross. Never underestimate the positive impact of quality literature!
      Yes, you would hope that reading is encouraged and supported at home, sadly this isn’t always the case.
      A quote from another teacher from my inset day on Friday:
      I was reading with a child and they stopped on the word ‘book case’. The child said ‘What’s that?’ Assuming the child couldn’t read the word we sounded out ‘book case’ together. The child said ‘No, I mean what’s a book case?’
      My response was ‘The shelves where you keep your books. Where do you keep your books at home?’
      Child: ‘I don’t have any.’

      This really highlights the importance of teachers as positive ‘enabling adults’ doesn’t it?

  4. I am lucky to have had multiple enabling adults growing up, most of my family encouraged reading and would give me books for birthdays which were always excellent reads. I also had some great teachers who knew that I enjoyed reading and would offer ideas and recommendations as well as making room in our timetables for reading time at school most days. The stand out enabling adult, however, is my dad. He used to read to me and my brother every night when we were little and then continued up until about the end of primary school – he was so enthusiastic about books and we would discuss what we thought was going to happen next… It was probably the main influence on my love for reading as an adult – we still share books and offer recommendations to each other now.
    I would like to think that I am fairly confident in being an enabling adult, especially with my enthusiasm for reading. I do think though that to become more confident in this, I need to read up on more current children’s literature to have more of a balance, rather than just books which are 10+ years old.

  5. This chapter is a great opportunity to reflect on reading habits both, as a child and as an adult. I cannot remember having had an enabling adult when I was very young and later on certainly teachers’ reading lists gave me an opportunity to read widely and dip into areas I would not have encountered otherwise, but truly enjoyed.
    I fondly remember my secondary school’s huge library though, and all the afternoons I spent choosing a book, being nosy what the books I was still ‘too young’ to read might be like…and then reading them anyway.
    What I found very interesting is that yet again the fact that enthusiasm, knowledge and reflection (response) are mentioned in order to draw children in and spark a love for the subject. I feel confident taking on the part of an enabling adult, however, I certainly have to enhance my reading bank for KS2 children!

  6. Looking back, I feel like the main enabling adult for me was my year 5 teaching assistant; she had the role of taking each pupil out at some point each week so that we could read to her, and then she would encourage that we read to parents, siblings, or just to ourselves. Once we had finished a book, our T.A. would ask us what we thought of that book, recording our responses, and suggesting future reads that she thought would be good for each individual. I remember often thinking that I wouldn’t enjoy some of the books, just by looking at the cover or the blurb, but I don’t recall actually disliking any of the books that she had suggested once I got into it. This, in hind-sight, has widened my range of interests and experience in books, perhaps the most. The other major enabling adult, for me, would have to be my mum, as she always read to me, encouraged reading and bought new books for my sister and I to read. Thinking about being an enabling adult myself, I feel as though it will require a lot of time, effort and personal reading to get there, but I am excited to be an influencer in a child’s literature development that they remember in years to come, as we are doing now.

  7. I found this chapter really interesting as although I loved reading as a child, I was never really a ‘book worm’. I much preferred to be outside and being active and stories were for bedtime and winding down.
    Being a parent myself, I can see the impact I have as an ‘enabling adult’ first hand (even with a 2yr old!). I agree that this chapter really highlights the importance of Teachers – and their communication with parents to continue reading with their children at home.
    I also found the research on children’s reading interesting and wonder how that would reflect in the current year with the increase of technology such as mobile phones, iPads etc.
    I too need to enhance my knowledge of children’s literature, especially KS2!

  8. I am fully aware what a tremendous change the teacher can make. I fondly remember my High School teacher. Her passion for reading was contagious! She would read to us in lessons and I still remember (and that was quite a long time ago) how sometimes she would become tearful reading, or made us laugh out loud. She could bring every text to life by exposing her own emotions. She used to take us to theatre and request that we dress up smartly and iron our clothes, for, as she used to say, going to theatre is not only the play itself, but careful preparation, and getting excited, is part of the experience as well. She had very high expectations of us so I started to read more. I read all the books on our reading lists and beyond. It became my favourite subject. Even my further educational choices were directly influenced by that teacher.
    Her influence has never stopped, and now I am reading to and with my daughter often. We read with our emotions and I think that makes a big difference.
    I am very excited about taking on a role of the enabling adult at school. But even though I have all the enthusiasm, I know I need to widen my knowledge of the appropriate books to be able to recommend a good read to even the most reluctant readers.

  9. There a few adults that I can think of that enabled me to read and enjoy books from a young age. My parents were very hands on and always have been throughout my life. I remember them supporting me with the early reader books which I really didn’t like. But over time, their support and guidance made me grow to love books and really enjoy reading in my spare time. I really loved reading the Jacqueline Wilson and Roald Dahl books. The best thing is that I still love to read now!
    I am excited about being an enabling adult to children with regards to reading, because I believe that being able to enjoy a book is incredibly rewarding. It encourages imaginative development and it opens up your mind to a wider world than just the one that we live in.

  10. I was very much encouraged to read as a child. My mum would read me poetry regularly, whether this was children’s or adults poetry. I would always construct such beautiful pictures in my mind with the descriptive language used on the page. She would ask me questions about how the poem made me feel and we would pick out our favourite word in each poem. She would also take me to the library every Saturday and I would scurry to the children’s section and grab every Charlie and Lola book I possibly could. We would sometimes spend entire days at the library choosing new books to read, carefully picking out the ones we’d read that night. My fondest experience of reading was my teacher in year 2. He was extremely enthusiastic and always did terrific voices for each character. He would ask us to bring in our favourite books, and we would present them with such pride. He too would bring in his favourite books and he was particularly fond of Roald Dhal. I especially remember reading the BFG every afternoon ended up he re-reading it later in the year due to our popular demand! This, to me, highlights the importance of the teachers enthusiasm for literature and the need for a wide range of knowledge in literature.
    Unfortunately, when I grew older, my love of books decreased drastically as I hated picking apart every word and analysing their connotations. I felt that the teacher wasn’t enthusiastic and felt that she had lost her love for teaching. She certainly had the knowledge, but the way she taught it was extremely dull.
    This is one of the reasons why I am so excited to make a change when I become a teacher, I want to ensure my class enjoy reading and I am sure that I will read to them regularly, both the classics such as Roald Dhal and the new literature that is to come.

  11. The chapter allowed me to properly assess my experience with enabling adults within my primary education since my literary knowledge was properly expanded in my secondary school and A Levels. My mum regularly read to me when I was small and would read to me often if I was ill. I was and still am, an active independent reader and I would say that I am quite diverse in genres but I tend to stay clear from books that would take longer to read (harry potter, hunger games, twilight,etc). However, my A Level English Literature course made me feel as though I should focus all my reading time into the novels/poetry for my course rather than for pleasure but I now am able to read the books that I’ve had for a while but not got round to reading 🙂

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