- About the Author
- On Active Service
Twice a week I go to the local primary school and listen to the children reading. It must be about the easiest voluntary work you could wish for and so rewarding.
It’s a small village school , the church of St.Lawrence is opposite, I hear the church bells chime the hour as I arrive. The playing fields look out onto the Quantock Hills, where, in the spring and summer I sit on a bench listening to the children reading and wonder if they have any idea how lucky they are growing up in such a lovely place official site. I can only hope they will look back one day and remember these days with affection.
I go to two classes, Class one (Reception and Year One) and Class two (Years Two and Three).
The children in Reception have scarcely grasped the concept of school and when I ask politely (I’m not a teacher after all) if they would like to fetch their reading book and come and read to me they often say “No.” and it takes a while for them to understand that this is a command, not a request.
When I went to school we didn’t have phonetics and the way we learned our alphabet and the sounds of words was totally different from the way children learn today. The books have changed too. We had “Janet and John”, Caucasian children, who ate bread and butter and jam, they have Ravi and Sanjiv, Asian children, who eat chapatis, and whose grandparents, the story tells us, dream of the sunshine and warmth of their home country. And there’s often a child in a wheelchair or on crutches and/or a child wearing glasses.
Some children learn quickly, they plunge in enthusiastically, making mistakes, guessing words, so keen to read. Others hang back, shyly sounding out each letter, scared of making a mistake. Yet, most of them, by the time I meet them in Class Two, have reached a similar standard. Their personalities don’t change though. Here they are allowed to choose their own books. The confident ones choose Michael Murpurgo, the less confident linger on older versions of the Ravi and Sanjiv stories.
Bethany Askew is the author of five novels:
The Time Before, The World Within, Out of Step, Counting the Days and Poppy’s Seed.
She has also written a short story, The Night of the Storm, and she writes poetry.
Future projects include a new short story, this one for the young adult market, and another full-length novel.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, music, theatre, walking, Pilates, dancing and voluntary work.
Bethany is married and lives in Somerset.