Reading Lessons by Carol Atherton


Pre-order: Published 4/4/24

Bookseller Review by Kath:

This is a joy to read. Everyone interested in why we read and everyone who teaches English literature needs a copy of this. It validates the value of books. Atherton, a teacher of over 25 years, shines a brilliant light on secondary set texts and how she believes they encourage empathy, insight, independence of thought, awareness of others, the broadening of horizons and the use of the imagination to think what must it be like to live in another’s shoes. Students need all of these qualities to step out into the world beyond education. They need excellent teachers with the time and passion of Atherton,who has clearly inspired all whom she teaches. Today, the focus is evermore on STEM subjects. Read this and be reminded why deep reading, dissection and discussion of a book, opens the mind and at whatever age, this is a book for all of us. Atherton sensitively takes us on her personal journey to books, to Oxford, to teaching and to those books she has read, will read again and what these books offer her pupils, as well as herself. Prose, poetry, plays – they are all here – illuminated by a teacher who so clearly demonstrates the value in teaching literature.

ISBN: 9780241629482 Category: Tags: , ,


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.