Robin Kingsland

“With primary schools, and many homes, being ‘female’ dominated

environments some boys fail to identify reading as a male activity.

Most studies into raising boys’ achievement place a high value

on positive male role models for boys.”

(Oxford University Press, “Let’s Get Boys Reading” initiative 

MISSION STATEMENT

LEAPING OFF THE PAGE has a very simple aim – to make children – and especially boys - excited about the possibilities of reading, by offering a high- standard  reading performance by an actor who not only understands children’s writing because he is a children’s writer, but also understands performance because he is an actor.

 
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT

Recent reports by Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (or PIRLS) have revealed worrying trends in literacy rates in English children, and especially among boys. A 2007 report looking at literacy levels in 40 countries concluded children in England were less likely to read for pleasure outside school than youngsters almost everywhere else, and a 2001 study found that girls out-performed boys in reading in every participating country. Department for Education and Skills figures suggest that from key stage 1 to key stage 4 girls score consistently higher than boys in all literacy related tasks.

This falling off in interest in reading has been blamed on a number of factors:  the prevalence of TV and computers in children’s room; other interests intervening; boys’ preference for more physical activities. However, another significant and frquently cited cause has been the lack of role models in reading, and this has been identified as particularly true for boys.  Sue Hackman dcsf (chief adviser on school standards), has bemoaned the fact that parents "suddenly cut off" reading with their children as soon as they think the children  have mastered the skill.

Although research has shown that boys start reading quite keenly, this falls off as they grow older. A strong link has been suggested between this decline, and the fact that they see little or no evidence around them of adult males reading for pleasure


Jan Greer says in her "Literacy Post" blog "Research states that young males see reading as a feminine activity and therefore steer away from it. There is only one way to change this perception and that is for men... in the community to read aloud to boys and show that reading is an activity of value". and, it might be added, an activity of fun!

Most studies into raising boys’ achievement place a similarly high value on the need to find positive male role models for boys.

 

LEAPING OFF THE PAGE aims to provide at just that – offering teachers a valuable resource, that will inspire children with the richness and fun and drama that reading can provide, and entertain them at the same time – all provided as a bookable session, or a day spent with all ages in a school setting.

 

THE READER

Robin Kingsland has been visiting schools and libraries all over Britain ever since he bagan writing fiction for young people, and was always a popular guest for author visits. His infectious enthusiasm for  all kinds of literature, and his skills as a reader storyteller and raconteur helped gain him a reputation among teachers and librarians as one of those authors whose work and appearances actually made boys want to read books.

THE PERFORMANCE

LEAPING OF THE PAGE seeks to re-inforce at all times the importance of reading books. Thus all LEAPING OFF THE PAGE performances will work, not from scripts but directly from copies of the books in question – the same copies that the pupils can go and get from the shop or library and read for themselves.

For the same reason (except for reasons of time or pacing) LEAPING OFF THE PAGE performances would be read unedited – no cutting out of “he said”, “she said” to turn the extract into a mini-play.  Nor would performances add, compress or transpose scenes or sections. What pupils would see and hear would be a dynamic and exciting reading of exactly what the author has written. If sections must be omitted – for example to bring together one strand in a multi layered book – these jumps would be clearly indicated, and any important sections between summarised by the performer.

 

ANTHOLOGIES

Robin is currently compiling a list of syllabus set books from which to assemble anthologies for themed reading sessions – for example,  “World War 1 writing”, or “The Victorian Romantics”,  “Twentieth Century Greats”. For younger pupils, anthologies might include anything to Michael Morpurgo’s “War Horse” to Roald Dahl’s “Revolting Rhymes” or Roger McGoughs poems. And if schools wish to provide him a list of titles they would like included, Robin is more than happy to create a bespoke performance anthology for the day, provided sufficient lead-time is allowed.

In a word, anything that is suitable for the target pupils, and is available in print, LEAPING OFF THE PAGE can come and read.

 

POETRY

Sometimes hearing a poem read live, with conviction, by a skilled performer can be just the thing to really engage the pupil with the poem’s rhythms, themes and emotional power. And with a live performer, it would be possible to hear the poem read in different ways – perhaps reading a love poem sincerely, and then with a knowing irony, to open up discussion of what the poet’s intention might have been. Being able to respond directly to pupils suggestions for how a line might be read can empower the pupils to explore their own ideas of what a poem can do.

 

SHAKESPEARE

Robin not only has the skills to bring a Shakespeare speech to life. He also has the skill to take direction from the floor, subtly changing his delivery to alter the impact or intention of a speech. In this way, he can facilitate the exploration by pupils of the various ways in which a speech or scene can be played. And his skills as a director mean that he can, if requested, direct pupils in scenes from the plays, helping them to see the variety of approaches and playing styles that could be used!

 

Please Note: Robin is also happy to visit the reception or nursery classes to read a picture book – believing that it is never too early to present children with male reading role models 
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