Category archives: libraries

Friday, 12 January 2018

News and articles about children’s reading

Hampton LibraryThis is the very welcoming children’s area of Hampton Library in Peterborough, where I gave a course this week on encouraging a love of books and reading in the early years. I’m currently planning next week’s follow-up on supporting reading in the primary years. Because of all the training I give on children’s and young people’s reading, I always like to keep up to date with latest research. Here’s the news I’ve come across in the last couple of months, along with a number of valuable articles.

The government has pledged £120 million to tackle the early years word gap.

They are also planning ‘English hubs’ and phonics roadshows to boost literacy, news that has been met with a certain amount of cynicism and anger, in the light of mass closures of libraries.

Northern Ireland and England schools are now in the global top ten for reading. However, analysis by NFER demonstrates that the improvement on previous years is small and that England has an above average number of children who do not like reading.

New research shows that over 750,000 UK children have no books of their own, a worrying statistic as children without books are fifteen times less likely to be good readers.

One in five parents of primary children spend no time reading with their children and over half spend less than an hour a week reading to them. Meanwhile a third think their children don’t read enough books. If only they saw the connection! (I missed this news in September, so am including it here.)

Another new report shows that children’s levels of reading enjoyment and daily reading frequency are both lower than their levels of cognitive reading skills.

It’s always interesting and useful to see the annual International Literacy Association What’s Hot in Literacy survey.

Do read Geoff Barton’s article ‘I salute the teachers, TAs and librarians who inspire a love of reading in children for whom books are alien’. Great to see librarians given due recognition. I applaud this too: ‘We need also to celebrate schools that maintain a commitment to wide-ranging, joyful reading for pleasure, rather than texts deployed merely for comprehension and analysis.’

Rob Smith has written about the importance of letting children enjoy being read to and reading for themselves without always having to answer questions, write reviews, or do some other ‘work thing’.

School librarian of the year Lucas Maxwell has blogged for Booktrust about ways social media can connect students with authors they love.

Lots of useful ideas in teacher Jon Biddle’s two most recent blogs: ‘Ideas for encouraging peer recommendations in the classroom’ and ‘Reading buddies’.

I very much like Imogen Russell Williams’ article on the benefits of illustration in children’s books, which includes excellent book recommendations.

Teresa Cremin has written a valuable piece on the need for teachers’ knowledge of children’s literature to be widened.

Finally, again from Lucas Maxwell, a tale of reluctant readers and a book.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Reading for information – inspiring quotes for National Non-Fiction November on fostering children’s curiosity

NFI’m delighted that one of the courses I’m giving this week is on reading for information, perfect in National Non-Fiction November. These are some of the great books we’ll be looking at, all brilliant for developing curiosity.

I love all the quotes here. They demonstrate the value and importance of nurturing enquiring minds, and give some useful pointers into how to do it – not least harnessing the power of libraries and librarians.

  • ‘I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.’ Eleanor Roosevelt
  • ‘Curiosity is the engine of achievement.’ Ken Robinson
  • ‘The most reliable predictor of achievement is a hungry mind.’ Sophie von Stumm
  • ‘The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited.’ Plutarch
  • ‘Reading for information is about thinking, wondering, and sometimes understanding, with the ever-present possibility of being unsettled.’ Margaret Meek
  • ‘If we are to motivate children to go through the research process, then we must ensure that their curiosity is stimulated, by exposing them to new information or ideas that cause them to want to know more.’ Jeni Riley and David Reedy
  • ‘It is not the answer that enlightens but the question.’ Eugène Ionescu
  • ‘The essential move in learning is to transform information to understanding.’ Margaret Meek
  • ‘Libraries offer the arsenal in the war of understanding.’ Mal Peet
  • ‘Librarians open up the world. Knowledge is useless if you don’t even know where to begin to look. How much more can you discover when someone can point you in the right direction, when someone can maybe even give you a treasure map, to places you may not have even thought you were allowed to go? This is what librarians do.’ Patrick Ness
  • ‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.’ Dr Seuss

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Inspiring quotes for National Libraries Week

IMG_0930I am a passionate advocate of libraries. I know first hand their transformative power. I can’t let National Libraries Week go by without sharing a few of my favourite library quotes. And as illustration, here’s the wonderful Stockholm Central Library, which I was lucky enough to visit a few years ago.

‘Libraries store the energy that fuels the imagination. They open up windows to the world and inspire us to explore and achieve, and contribute to improving our quality of life. Libraries change lives for the better.’ Sidney Sheldon

‘A library in the middle of a community is a cross between an emergency exit, a life-raft and a festival. They are cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination.’ Caitlin Moran

‘A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them.’ Lemony Snicket

‘I see libraries and librarians as frontline soldiers in the war against illiteracy and the lack of imagination.’ Neil Gaiman

‘Libraries create readers. It’s that simple.’ Nicola Morgan

‘The way to get children reading is to leave the library door open and let them read anything and everything they want.’ Terry Pratchett

‘Get yourself down to the library and read a book.’ Alex Ferguson

‘You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books are the greatest weapons. This room’s the best arsenal we could have!’ Doctor Who

‘Reading is the centre of learning and libraries are at the heart of this.’ Gervase Phinn

‘For all those children out there who, like me, loved books and couldn’t afford to buy them, all I can say is thank God for our libraries …… Reading should and must be the right of all, not just a privilege for the few.’ Malorie Blackman

‘Shout for libraries. Shout for the young readers who use them.’ Patrick Ness

‘A library is a place where you can lose your innocence without losing your virginity.’ Germaine Greer

Friday, 7 July 2017

School libraries and librarians and their importance

new milton bus

This is the fabulous library at New Milton Primary School.

I believe passionately in the value of school libraries and librarians. In the last couple of years a number of schools have made their librarians redundant, a truly shocking act that will have long-term consequences for children’s reading and wider learning. Budgets for libraries have diminished drastically in all too many schools, again something that will have a big negative effect.

Last week saw the publication of a valuable literature review of school libraries, exploring current provision in the UK and evidence of school library impact. It demonstrates clearly the benefits of an effective school library and librarian in relation to reading skills and enjoyment; wider attainment; attitudes to learning; resilience; independence; self-esteem. There is a useful run-down of the elements of good school libraries. (Librarians come top of the list.)

For those who haven’t seen it, this is an excellent outline of the role of the school librarian by Alison Tarrant, School Librarian of the Year 2016.

On Principals Know: School Librarians are the Heart of the School several US school principals talk about the importance of school libraries and librarians.

Here is author Cathy Cassidy on the transformative impact of school libraries and school librarians: ‘Where there is a school library – and that mythical, magical creature, a school librarian – there is hope .…. School libraries are awesome. They are a refuge for the lost, the lonely; a haven for the bookworm; a hotbed of creativity, revolution and adventure. School libraries often contain book clubs and cake and laughter, as well as shelf after shelf of brilliant stories, dreams, other worlds. They teach young people how to find their wings and fly, and without them we’d be lost.’

There are links to more articles and reports on my previous blogs on school libraries.

Monday, 27 February 2017

Family learning takes many forms – a photographic overview

A little while ago I blogged about the importance of family learning and gave some links to sources of information. This time, I thought I would share a few of the photos I showed on a recent course on the topic for an inspiring group of community development workers, children’s centre staff and library staff. They give an indication of the many forms good family learning can take.Golders Green rhyme time 2Rhyme times are fabulous in terms of fun, and for developing social and emotional skills and language. This is a great one run by Barnet Libraries.Family Drop-in 003Enjoyable activities like this drop-in event at Orleans House Gallery support family bonding and give ideas for things to do at home.Bedtime reading event - 3There’s nothing to beat story times for building a love of books and reading. Lots of engagement in this Bromley Libraries bedtime story hour.Marlborough session 3 -2Everyone enjoys creative activites, and they support social and artistic skills. I was very lucky to be part of Historic Royal Palaces’ Curious Stories project.DSCN0274I loved contributing to this Barnet Libraries project. Lots of fun, and everyone got a real sense of achievement, an important aspect of family learning.Fitz & Museum of Classical Archaeology 1For family learning to work it must be enjoyable. This is a wonderful collaboration between the Museum of Classical Archaeology and Fitzwilliam Museum.cardiff storyResearch shows that family learning supports well-being. You can see how it happens in these photos from a Cardiff Story event.Liverpool & Enfield 2Family learning is inclusive and intergenerational. Don’t forget grandparents! These photos were taken at events in Liverpool and Enfield libraries.prehistoric animalLots of good family learning is very informal, as in this event at Crealy Adventure Park mounted by the Royal Albert Memorial Museum.Oak20Lastly, a reminder that play is an important part of family learning activities. Here is an Enfield Libary Service toddler time.

Family learning is transformative. For anyone interested in finding out more about its benefits and ways to support it effectively, there are still places available on two courses I’m giving later this term: Sheffield on 23 March and Cardiff on 28 March. I also deliver bespoke in-service family learning training for local authorities, schools, museums, and other organisations.