We love World Book Day. It’s all about the joy of reading and there is a real buzz at the moment around reading for pleasure and the impact this can have on academic, economic and mental health outcomes.
It isn’t easy to create and maintain a reading for pleasure culture in a primary school given budget, workload issues and just the day-to-day pressure of having to get things done. But alongside the exciting book-centred activities of this week it’s worth taking a little time to focus on what your school’s reading culture looks like and what else might make a difference.
There are two things that we think can have a significant impact; the book knowledge of staff – teachers mainly but other adults in school too, and the range of books that you give children access to in your book corners and libraries.
Teachers who read, are enthusiastic about children’s books and can discuss and recommend, are key. Every teacher should dip into the Open University research led by Teresa Cremlin to see why this is a crucial part of a reading for pleasure strategy in school. There are some fantastic practical examples of how to apply the research too*.
If you have teachers with enthusiasm and book knowledge, collection building and management becomes much easier and if you have access to a librarian (employed or via a School Library Service) even better.
Rather than relying on established favourites, celebrity authors or a familiar series, we need to give children access to a diverse collection that will meet their varying needs, interests, backgrounds and aspirations. This means having the confidence to fill your library or book corners with an array of books by newer authors (and there are so many excellent ones) alongside the more familiar. Add some enticing non-fiction, picture books, graphic novels and magazines.
Book corners can often be overladen with Wimpy Kid box sets, shelves full of Rainbow Magic (or another donated and once-loved series) and celebrity authors so visible to parents and children outside of school. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these forming parts of your collection but to truly embed a reading for pleasure culture and sustain it you need to be brave in your book selection. Read and talk about books at every opportunity and use the expertise of your School Library Service if you are lucky enough to have one.
We’d be delighted to talk to you about our School Library Service and how we can help your school support this reading culture. Please contact us for more information.
*We’re starting an Essex Teachers’ Reading for Pleasure Group in 2019/20 joining the network of Open University and UKLA groups across the country. Register your interest now and we’ll invite you to a preliminary session in the summer term.