Friday, 18 May 2012

Reading promotion

I really enjoyed giving a course for secondary school librarians on promoting reading at Heath Books yesterday. There were loads of brilliant ideas shared. Everyone was very impressed by a project initiated by a PE teacher at one of the schools represented. Each week a group of students (boys and girls, from year 7 and up) visit a local old people’s home to read to the residents. The residents love it, and the students gain a huge amount too. They choose what books to take with the help of the librarian. The PE teacher has noticed a marked increase in the students’ ability and confidence as the scheme has gone on. It was also great to hear about a Gotta Keep Reading flash mob organised by one of the delegates. Break dancing with books in the dining hall. How fantastic! (If you haven’t yet seen the inspiration, a Gotta Keep Reading performance at Ocoee Middle School in Florida, here it is.)

I am fascinated by and delighted about all the opportunities ICT and social media offer now for reading and writing promotion. Book trailers are a big hit in lots of schools. Several of the librarians on the course use Glogster and Animoto very effectively. One told us about his successful use of a Twitter feed on the library website. Write Path International links schools across the globe in a fantastic interactive writing project, with the help of dozens of fabulous authors and poets. Skype is brilliant for engaging children and young people with authors at much less cost than a visit. Live-streaming is proving very powerful. (Do you know about the Philippa Gregory live-streaming event on 30 May? Scholastic’s Big Book Babble has some very good live events, and it’s worth checking out the Scottish Book Trust for their children’s and teen author events too.)

But very low key promotions can also be extremely powerful. It was lovely yesterday to hear the effect that a librarian reading aloud from Skulduggery Pleasant had. A trickle of students around him swiftly turned into a crowd. Lots of course members have had great success with Carel Press’s Reading Game. It always massively boosts demand for books. The picture shows it in action at Emmbrook School.