Category archives: school libraries

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Coopers Lane School tube carriage library

interiorWhat a lovely afternoon I had on Friday: a visit to Coopers Lane Primary School in Lewisham to see their fabulous tube carriage library, and talk to headteacher Paul Hooper about its inception and use. The story started with a vote by the children in the school to call their classrooms after tube stations. That led to a wild idea to get a tube carriage into the playground and to make it into a library. The old one had to make way for a classroom when the school expanded. Many conversations and lots of work by lots of people later the dream became a reality. You can watch the installation and hear more about the project here.

This is a school that places huge emphasis on instilling a love of learning and that sees reading for pleasure as a vital part of this. The library is a manifestation of their educational priorities. It takes pride of place in the playground, and the children flock to it during playtimes. There are loads of carefully chosen books for them to read, and they love playing in the driver’s cab.
exterior with ticket officeThe library is also used very imaginatively to support learning across the curriculum, for example when the year 6 children explored evacuation during World War 2 they boarded the train as evacuees. The Reading Dream Team – such a great name – pair up with children in need of support to enjoy books together in the library. The children have written their own Poems on the Underground, some of which were read at the library opening ceremony. They are also going to appear on the underground network, an incredible accolade.

It’s not only the children who like reading in the library. I was very pleased to introduce Paul to a new favourite book of mine, Dog on a Train by Kate Prendergast, a wonderful wordless story which features tubes and tube stations.

Paul Hooper & First News

Many thanks to Paul and the school for a very heartening end to my week.

Friday, 18 November 2016

School libraries and their importance – recent news, views and articles

research-1Many thanks to Notre Dame School in Cobham for this lovely picture.

School libraries aren’t often in the media spotlight, but this week they have been. Brilliant that they are getting the attention they deserve. Too many heads and governing bodies see library cuts as an easy route to making savings, failing to realise that for short term gain they will sacrifice vital support for literacy, learning and well-being. Closures of school library services are also having a devastating impact. Few people can have failed to see the headlines about an illustrated letter Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, with the backing of all eight former laureates, sent to Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Education, demanding action on school libraries and school library services.

Shirley Hughes was one of many children’s book creators to add their views: ‘It is vital that children should grow up, have the confidence to choose and share the books they like, access knowledge, scrutinise the illustrations at their own pace and become engrossed in a story, all with the help and encouragement of a school librarian. Government should be increasing funding to school libraries, not cutting it. No civilised country would do otherwise.’ This is SF Said: ‘If we care about literacy, EVERY SINGLE SCHOOL should have a library and a librarian.’

In a powerful article on the importance of libraries for children’s reading and learning for the Daily Telegraph headteacher Nigel Lashbrook says ‘Quite simply, school libraries, and their librarians, are critical to our children’s future. The level of development of the school library is a highly accurate predictor of academic success.’ Well worth reading.

Meanwhile in the Guardian school librarian Lucy Ivison has explained why cutting school libraries is a disastrous decision. School libraries change lives. They empower and educate children, and help with social mobility. With public libraries also being closed, we need their school counterparts more than ever.

Do also read the latest Talking About Books blog on the vital role school librarians play. ‘A room full of books can’t provide the accessibility to reading without a guiding hand, a guiding voice.’ I am delighted the author highlights librarians’ support for comprehension and inference.

Barbara Band wrote a useful blog at the start of term on the unique position of a school librarian. I was also interested to read an American teacher’s view on the value of school librarians.

Finally, a wonderful story about a school library in a converted tube carriage.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Children’s and young people’s reading – a round-up of recent news and articles

dream jarsI loved the BFG dream jars that sprung up over London during the holidays, and it was great watching children and families swarming round them. A lovely celebration of Roald Dahl and of books and reading.

It’s not only a new school year, but also Read a Book Day, so definitely a good time to catch up on reading news and articles from the last couple of months.

Anyone with an interest in reading knows it has all sorts of advantages. Perhaps the most intriguing recent finding is that people who read books live longer lives.

The right way to bribe your kids to read – a deliberately provocative title – looks at the best ways for parents to support children’s reading. As the author says, extrinsic motivation doesn’t necessarily lead to an intrinsic desire to read. Lovely that taking children to the library, being a reading role model, talking to children about books and having lots of books at home are more effective than cash.

The merits of reading real books to your children explores the value of sharing books with children, particularly the benefits of paper books over digital ones.

Tough times out there? Here’s why reading with your kids is more important now than ever is useful and illuminating. Reading to children supports empathy and understanding as well as their overall development.

I liked this article on the importance of rare words for children’s learning and literacy, and why reading books helps.

The NUT reading for pleasure site has been revamped and has lots of practical tips and ideas.

Very good to see a focus on whole school literacy and on importance of school library in How to create a positive reading culture in your school from the TES.

Seven top tips for getting students reading by school librarian Joel Crowley is valuable too. Sharing your enthusiasm is quite rightly number one.

It’s worth reading the Learning Spy, aka David Didau’s new blog post 5 things every new (secondary) teacher should know about reading.

The problem with female protagonists is a very interesting article on the need for, and the insufficient numbers of, fictional female role-models for everyone.

New research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation includes disturbing data about young adults’ literacy. England is the only country in the OECD where the average literacy score for the youngest age group (16-18 years old) is lower than that of the oldest age group (55 to 65 years old).

A TES article by Joe Nutt about YA fiction caused a huge furore over the summer. Juno Dawson wrote a powerful rebuttal. There was a Today programme discussion between Joe Nutt and Francesca Simon (2 hours 18 minutes in). YA author Julie Mayhew has also written a valuable response to original article. And this is a powerful riposte from a 16 year-old student.

Finally, a warming story about Doorstep Library, which takes books and reading to disadvantaged children.

 

Thursday, 19 May 2016

School libraries are vital for reading and learning – news, guidance, links and quotes

Altrincham Grammar 2It’s ages since I last blogged about school libraries, despite all the training I do about them (the photo shows part of the lovely library at Altrincham Grammar School, where I gave a course for the School Library Association Manchester branch recently), and despite my passion for them. The closure of school libraries and school library services horrifies me. It is so short-sighted and so destructive.

I agree with Gervase Phinn: ‘Reading is the centre of learning and libraries are at the heart of this.’ It’s well worth reading the Yorkshire Post article this comes from, ‘School libraries – the “real” seats of learning’.

Do read this Guardian piece too, ‘School libraries face a bleak future’ on the value of school libraries and librarians. ‘A library is more than the sum of its books; it is a hive of knowledge and a place where the research skills necessary for future study are honed …… A library without a librarian is like a school without a headteacher …… Libraries should be a right in schools …… Opening a library door helps children open their mind. For many, books are too expensive and a library allows students to borrow them.’

‘How libraries brought out my inner book geek’ is a teenager’s take on the powerful impact school libraries can have.

New Zealand school librarian Steph Ellis has lots of good practical ideas for supporting literacy through the school library effectively.

‘I want a good book’ contains useful thoughts on helping students choose a book that is right for them. As the article says, too much choice can be daunting.

Barbara Band’s Library Stuff blog is consistently interesting and pertinent. Her post from last summer on selecting books is full of insight and good ideas.

‘5 fun ways to get teachers into the library’ by the librarian at Glenthorne High School has some great tips for doing just that. I especially like this one: students defend banned books of their choosing, against a backdrop of mug shots of teachers posing with their favourite banned books.

For anyone new to the world of school libraries, there’s lots more help available. If you are lucky enough to work in a local authority that has a schools library service, do make use of their wonderful resources, knowledge and advice. The School Library Association is an invaluable source of guidance. Their publications are excellent. Secondary school librarians will undoubtedly find the new edition of CILIP Guidelines for Secondary School Libraries extremely valuable.

And to end, Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell: ‘School librarians are amazing people who match readers to books that they know they are going to enjoy and that way you actually create readers, and this happens in school libraries every day.’ Absolutely right!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Children’s and teenagers’ reading: recent news and views

monkey readingI love this picture from a museum in Orvieto in Italy. A great illustration for my latest round-up of reading news and articles.

Finland has just been named as the world’s most literate nation, while the UK is ranked 17th.

The National Literacy Trust has published a new survey about early literacy practices at home.

A poll for International Children’s Book Day revealed that half of parents think reading a book is the best way to develop empathy.

The Reading Agency has launched a scheme to support young people’s mental health through books in public libraries.

Teen author Alex Whale considers whether reading children’s books can help tackle knife crime.

Author Natasha Carthew has written an important piece on the lack of working class culture in children’s books.

Ross Montgomery explores the difficulty and importance of writing diverse children’s books.

School librarian Barbara Band’s blog Reading schemes or reading for pleasure? is well worth a look.

There are good ideas here for promoting reading through the school library.

The Publishers Association is looking to recruit 10,000 ‘reading amabassadors’ to promote reading for pleasure.

Joy Court is very interesting on the impact of the Carnegie and Greenaway awards shadowing scheme on reading.

The shortlist has been announced for the Little Rebels Children’s Book Award.

Teenage reader Ayesha suggests the way to halt the decline in reading for pleasure is to give books a go.

‘The reality of reading to toddlers’ is entertaining and useful.

Finally, an article on why listening to podcasts helps improve reading skills.