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parsed(2024-05-21) - pubdate: 2024-05-21
pub date: 1716267600
today: 1721192400, pubdate > today = false

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Reading Lessons

The books we read at school, the conversations they spark and why they matter

May 21, 2024 | Hardcover
ISBN: 9780241629482
Reader Reward Price: $36.90 info
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An English teacher's love letter to reading and the many ways literature can make us, and our lives, better.

How can a Victorian poem help teenagers understand YouTube misogyny? Can Jane Eyre encourage us to speak out? What can Lady Macbeth teach us about empathy? Should our expectations for our future be any greater than Pip's? And why is it so important to make space for these conversations in the first place?

In a career spanning almost three decades, English teacher Carol Atherton has taught generations of students texts that will be familiar to many of us from our own schooldays. But while the staples of exam syllabuses and reading lists remain largely unchanged, their significance - and their relevance - evolves with each class, as it encounters them for the first time.

Each chapter of Reading Lessons invites us to take a fresh look at these novels, plays and poems, revealing how they have shaped our beliefs, our values, and how we interact as a society. As she recalls her own development as a teacher, Atherton emphasizes the vital, undervalued role a teacher plays, illustrates how essential reading is for developing our empathy and makes a passionate case for the enduring power of literature.

'Beautifully written, sensitive and full of warmth ... A vital point of reflection for anyone who has taught, or been taught, English literature' Jeffrey Boakye

'A love letter to literature itself ... At a time when English is under attack as an academic subject, Carol Atherton's powerful defence of it reminds us what we are in danger of losing' Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, author of The Turning Point

About this Author

Carol Atherton has taught English since 1996 and is currently Head of English at a secondary school in Lincolnshire. Originally from Merseyside, she read English at Oxford before doing a PGCE at Manchester Metropolitan University and a PhD at the University of Nottingham. She is a Fellow of the English Association and a member of the National Association for the Teaching of English. Atherton has written for a range of publications aimed at teachers and students, and she co-authored Teaching English Literature 16-19 (Routledge, 2013). Reading Lessons is her first trade publication.

ISBN: 9780241629482
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 400
Publisher: Penguin UK
Published: 2024-05-21


Atherton must be an inspiring teacher if her marvellous book is anything to go by ... Profound and empathetic ... Highly entertaining ... An engrossing book and a testament to a life well lived--The Independent, Books of the Month

Original and clever ... You want to force this book on the educational experts and politicians who are so sure they know how schools should operate. If your children are studying English literature, they should read this. But if you love books, you will want to read it yourself.--The i

She demonstrates how a generous and attentive teacher is able to wrestle meaning and relevance ... Nothing is more valuable than teaching a subject that encourages young minds to push beyond the confines created by the algorithms of social media, which is where her pupils live when they are not underlining bits of text in coloured Biro. Unlike any Stem subject, "doing English" requires young readers to enter imaginatively into the lives of others. And that, for "Miss", remains the greatest transferable skill of all.--Guardian, Book of the Day

Gentle and humane, a tribute to a vocation as much as to a discipline--TLS

Beautifully written, sensitive and full of warmth ... A vital point of reflection for anyone who has taught, or been taught, English literature ... Thought provoking and illuminating--Jeffrey Boakye

Reading Lessons is many books in one: a fresh and frank memoir of almost three decades as a secondary school English teacher, a love letter to literature itself, and a compelling argument for why young people continue to need novels, poems and plays ... At a time when English is under attack as an academic subject, Carol Atherton's powerful defence of it reminds us what we are in danger of losing.--Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, author of The Turning Point

'Essential ... At a time when the importance of the arts in education is being eroded, Reading Lessons makes a powerful case for the study of literature. If you are in the job you are in because you loved literature at school - or even if you didn't love it so much - this book is for you'--Caroline Sanderson, The Bookseller

This exhilarating report from the educational frontline shows how literature can excite - but also perplex - young readers. Indeed, it shows how the excitement and the perplexity often belong together--John Mullan, author of The Artful Dickens

Generous, humane and constantly surprising. An urgent defence of the power of literature to create empathetic, interrogative citizens--Emma Smith, author of Portable Magic: A History of Books and their Readers

A beautiful, thoughtful, vital book about the importance of stories. I loved every page ... Her story is fascinating and moving and one everybody should read, but especially any teacher of English who might be wondering if there's any point to what they're doing...there's every point!--Louise Morrish

Magnificent ... Reading Lessons is enlightening, moving and surprisingly emotional. Filled with humanity and love, this book speaks to the very heart of who we are--My Weekly

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