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Monday, March 05, 2007


Two Sundays ago we went for a walk in Shorne Wood Country Park. The park, in Kent, has recently opened a new Visitors Centre. The car parks have been made more accessible and it is now a remarkably pleasant place to visit.

There are well signposted walks through the park along with a large fishing area. As we walked around the lake we saw fathers and sons fishing – as a well as a scattering of enthusiasts on their own. In a little bay we came across a family of about eleven people. I think there were eleven because there was so much movement that it was difficult to count.

This was three generations of the same family. Naturally Grandfather and Dad had the top gear. They were dressed in their leggings and suits. The family stretched over two platforms with fishing chairs, three `bivvies’ and countless bags of gear.

There were six rods in the water. All the rods had alarms. This total investment in the sport of fishing showed a lifetime of achievement and an incredible interest in fishing.

Sitting, snug in a large fishing chair beside one of the rods was a nine year old girl. Naturally she wore a bright outfit. The large bowl of wriggling worms was right beside her. Every now and then one of the family walked across and threw a handful of bait into the water. She never looked up. Her head was buried in a book. Suddenly we saw and heard her alarm go off as the float dipped.

Grandfather ran across and shook her arm. She looked up into his face – but returned to her book. She never glanced at the rod or the line. Grandfather told her that there was a fish on her line. She nodded but continued reading. I think that this was the first bite anyone had had that day. The girl’s mother ran over and shook her daughter’s arm and implored her to catch the fish. The girl shook her head and continued reading. One of the brothers reeled the line in while another brother stood on the edge of the water with a rather large net in his hands.

We were all sure it was a fish. And the girl read on.

Parents who have children who love reading will recognise how sometimes the whole world is reduced to words on a page. Parents who have children who never read can only hope that one day their child will find something that interests and excites them. We know that some adults are readers and other never `have time’ to pick up a book. Some adults, for example, only read on holiday. Some children just hate reading and would rather do almost anything than settle comfortably with a book.

It does seem likely that children who love reading and like words and books will do better on verbal reasoning exercises. If your child does not like reading then you have a problem.

What about organising a fishing day? Beside every chair place a pile of fishing magazines, books and articles on how to catch fish. Advise all adults to withdraw fifteen feet from the fishing area. Your child will then have to learn to fish from the printed word. I wonder if this would stimulate a desire to pick up a book and read? You can only try.

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