This February we are celebrating some of Michael Morpurgo’s unforgettable stories, curated into specially chosen themes, Tales of the Sea, Animal Adventures, Times of War and Timeless Tales. The goal is to introduce children to Michael’s books if they are yet to discover them, or help them find another of his stories that they’ll love.
Michael is a passionate advocate of encouraging children to read for pleasure, and his stories often deal with emotionally challenging events, but always with a message of hope and compassion. Only recently, Michael wrote an article in The Sunday Times about his own love of stories, and why he feels children should read for half an hour a day at school.
It may come as a surprise to some, but Michael was actually a reluctant reader during his school days. Although his mother nurtured a love for storytelling at home, the threat of tests, quizzes and repeated failures loomed over Michael as he read at school and he struggled to find enjoyment in books when he was growing up.
Nevertheless, a few special teachers helped Michael hold on to his passion for storytelling despite the challenges he faced.
‘In every school and at university there was at least one teacher or lecturer who did enough to keep the embers of my early love of stories alive.’
These teachers were the ones that believed that stories should be enjoyed first and foremost. Children, Michael says, should be given the opportunity to savour a story and escape to new worlds without having to think about how they will be tested on their experience.
The duty of a teacher is to ensure that children ‘read for enjoyment, to pass on a love of stories, of ideas, so that children can become readers for life.’
Michael Morpurgo Month provides a chance for teachers to do just that. By introducing children to a wide range of stories and letting them explore those worlds in new and exciting ways, teachers can guarantee that for the whole of February, they will be able to dismiss their class at the end of each day and ‘send them away with wonder in their heads’.
To read the full article in The Sunday Times, click here.