Thursday, 3 October 2013

Reading and the primary school library

I loved giving training at Heath Books this week on promoting reading through the primary school library. Such an important topic, and one that fits in well with the revised national curriculum in England framework document which exhorts schools to provide library facilities and do all they can to promote wider reading. The library has a big role to play too in terms of literacy across the curriculum, another priority in the new curriculum, and in the eyes of Ofsted.

We had useful discussions on practicalities like budgeting, stock selection and acquisition, issue systems, library layout and guiding. My favourite part was when everyone shared ideas for making reading attractive and exciting. How about a dressing-up box or a puppet theatre in the library? Buddy reading and reading clubs work really well in a library setting.
Reading treasure hunts are great. We were all very taken by one school’s strategy of celebrating the arrival of boxes of new books for the library in assembly. What about each class taking turns in making book-related displays? The heart of good library provision is of course the books. There must be a wide variety of appealing, up-to-date picture books, fiction and non-fiction, so that every child, whatever their age or abilities, can find things to read that suit their tastes and their interests easily. We must teach children how to browse, and we must give them freedom of choice. It is fundamental to reading enjoyment. These are the words of Terry Pratchett: ‘The way to get children reading is to leave the library door open and let them read anything and everything they want.’

These websites have excellent support for anyone with responsibility for the school library: Primary School Library Guidelines and School Library Association. I also recommend the SLA publications.

I always show photos on my courses, to give everyone new ideas. The one here shows a lovely year 6 library lesson in Martin School in Barnet that I was lucky enough to be involved in.

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