GEMS Head of School Update: The Importance of Reading

By Richard Henry, Head of School September 15, 2018
GEMS Head of School Update: The Importance of Reading

"Today a reader, tomorrow a leader". - Margaret Fuller 

Yesterday, a group of Grade 3 to 5’s were invited to give up some of their lunchtime to have a story read to them by a "surprise special guest".

The children arrived at the library in anticipation of discovering who this special guest would be. A rumour had started that it was the football player, Ronaldo.

As you can imagine, when the famous Ronaldo did not appear there was a little bit of disappointment when they discovered that the special guest was me. Fortunately for my self-esteem, it was only a little bit of disappointment as the children seemed genuinely happy to stay and have a story read to them.

After a brief discussion about my socks (they were printed with pineapples) the children settled in to participate in our exploration of "The Dot" by Peter H. Reynolds. A wonderful story of a girl called Vashti who is supported by her teacher to discover her artistic talents.


At GEMS World Academy (Singapore) we place an important value on reading. Developing a love of books within our students has a significant focus in our curriculum, particularly in the younger years as it lays a foundation for their lives.

A vast amount of research shows us clearly that reading is important for many reasons including developing language, improving communication and deepening understanding of one’s own culture as well as the cultures of others. Nancie Atwell, the winner of the Global Teacher Prize (2015 Awards), has stressed the fundamental importance of literacy skills and the three major factors that enable literacy to bloom:

  • Students are given access to large and varied collections of books
  • Students are allowed the freedom to choose what they want to read
  • Students are granted the time they need

Our new Teacher Librarian, Ms Karen Melski, is incredibly passionate about encouraging children to read and her enthusiasm is infectious. In a very short space of time, Ms Melski has already made an impact in the way the library is actively used by our students. I am aware that she will be reaching out to our GEMS parents soon to engage you in ways to make the library a vibrant centre for learning.

It is my aim to get into more classes this year to read story books so as to play my part in keeping the enjoyment of reading alive.

I encourage all our families to find time in your busy lives to read with your younger children or encourage the older children to explore the world of books.

I will close with the words of Henry David Thoreau: 

To read well, that is, to read true books in a true spirit, is a noble exercise, and one that will task the reader more than any exercise which the customs of the day esteem. It requires a training such as the athletes underwent, the steady intention almost of the whole life to this object. Books must be read as deliberately and reservedly as they were written.


Richard Henry, Head of School



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