Secondary Boys

Exciting times as new students are introduced to the books. A secondary teacher told me about his class today. 3 teenage boys who have very little, if any, print  literacy skills have started to read The Honey Ant Readers, and are enjoying the experience enough to want to come back to school asking for more. This teacher is using the pictures to engage the very shy new students in discussion in first language, before starting to teach them reading and decoding skills from the words in the books. Despite being teenagers their experience of school is minimal. Yesterday his more capable secondary students asked to read the books.  By the end of the lesson they had started translating the books into a few Central Australian languages. He told me that they all love the songs and rhymes, which are in Standard Australian English, so that is helping their oral SAE. A group of students may sing some of the songs in language at a conference in Alice soon! All we need to do is to translate the songs, practise singing them a few times, then find a way to deal with those nerves and feelings of shame and shyness  once in front of the audience. I’m sure they’ll be there, tall and proud.

Some young men from the Pitlands in SA, have been reading the books while staying over at a youth centre in Adelaide, and have asked me to send the next ones as soon as I can! They relate to the red sand, honey ants, goanna and the way of life portrayed in the books. The text is meaningful and reading it has a purpose for these young people. If the young men begin to find reading an interesting and rewarding pastime, they may find a whole world of choice before them rather than a feeling of hopelessness, failure or exclusion when faced with a literate world which they cannot be part of.