WHEN I give talks in schools about Reading Force, I usually start by asking children for the positives of Forces life, writes Alison.
I love to hear the pride they express in their Forces parents; how proud they feel to be collected from school by someone in uniform. Routinely they have a strong awareness of world events, particularly geography – and have often attended big ceremonial occasions. I hear about the challenges too – how to keep friendships and family relationships going when base, home, school are shifting.
Resilience is much talked about, but we need to work towards its development in our Forces families, not assume the full quota is already there. Reading is an excellent way of developing the whole individual – and hence resilience.
It provides common ground for conversations, enables us to see more objectively situations we are facing ourselves and how they are managed by characters we read about. And each time we lose ourselves in a book, there’s a plentiful supply of other titles once the end is reached.
Sharing books involves children in an absorbing activity that connects them with others, helping them cope with immediate and emotional situations. Pooling feedback in a scrapbook lets them record the experience.
If you’re facing change, it provides a topic of conversation that is not the change itself; offering an everyday link to wider families, particularly grandparents and extending connections between phone calls.
It’s so simple but really works. I encourage families to give it a go.
For a free scrapbook, go to readingforce.org.uk – see page 46 for our latest Book Club.