It is hoped that one of the specific aims of education must be to try to endow children with an appreciation of literature. After all the acquisition of knowledge must be a prize not a burden.
Parents of prospective eleven plus candidates will have used stories as a means of bringing pleasure to their children –as well as trying to impart knowledge. The foundation we give to little children can provide solutions to some types of reasoning questions. Stories will provide much of the vocabulary and richness of language that the eleven plus child will feed on.
The books we try to encourage our eleven plus children to read can not have pages of introduction before the story proper starts. Our children will want to have books that get on with the story. After all the films and T.V. they watch, and the computer games they play, attempt to engross the audience from the first second.
It is likely that if children do not develop a taste for reading during their childhood, they will find it difficult to become readers in later life. Some parents find that if they read stories to their children they can sometimes take some of the `drudgery’ of reading out of the occasion.
These thoughts on reading sprang from the comments of a nine year old boy who was working on a verbal reasoning exercise – where he had to find two words that were similar. He commented on one of the words with, “Oh, I know that word. My teacher told us the word at story time.”
I remarked that it was like the words in the story about the Jabberwocky.
Wouldn’t it be fun if our eleven plus children had to cope with words and imagery like?
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.’
The ending is as striking today as it must have been over a hundred years ago:
`And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!
He chortled in his joy.
Some eleven plus children would love to be able to write and think in terms of the language used in Through the Looking Glass. The constraints of the eleven plus examination must be denying many children with verbal stimulation and enrichment. After all how does your child make time to read and reflect if he or she has to do a paper a day?