Tag archives: National Literacy Trust

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.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Recent news, reports and articles about children’s and young people’s reading

childrens-book-week-2015posters-chris-riddellIt’s Children’s Book Week, promoted beautifully by new Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell, so an excellent time for one of my periodic round-ups of children’s reading news and articles.

If you haven’t seen it yet, the latest National Literacy Trust report on children’s and young people’s reading is full of important data. There is much to celebrate, in particular that reading for enjoyment, which we know to be vital for literacy attainment, is rising. There are causes for concern too, for example nearly one child in four thinks their parents don’t care if they read and the gender gap in reading enjoyment has increased.

The Read On, Get On campaign has warned that the poorest children in the UK, particularly boys, lag behind in language skills and without interventions might never catch up. This has big implications for literacy.

‘Why your reading, as a teacher, makes a difference to your pupils’ is a useful article by Jane Jackson of BookSpace. I certainly agree with her message: we must value every child’s individual interests and choices.

I was also interested in this piece about how a US school got everyone excited about reading by jettisoning their reading programme. Every teacher and every student was set a simple goal: read twenty books in one semester. ‘Any book. Any kind. If you hate the book — STOP READING IT.’

Do have a look at this too: ‘Would you censor a child’s reading?’ It’s valuable and thought-provoking, as this snippet demonstrates: ‘Are our concerns logical, or simply knee-jerk outrage?’

I very much like school librarian Caroline Roche’s slideshow for 6th formers on the importance of fiction (even for mathematicians).

Amanda Craig caught my eye with an article on what she calls (rightly, in my view) the present golden age of children’s literature. Her comparisons with previous such ages are very illuminating. I love her contention that children’s books ‘give a child a lever with which to prise open the world’.

Lastly, I came across another great quote just today, from teenage novelist Keith Gray: ‘Books are for life, not just for homework.’ Absolutely!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Family support for reading

The National Literacy Trust has just published the latest of its excellent reports on children’s and young people’s reading. Family Matters: The Importance of Family Support for Young People’s Reading details the findings of the Trust’s 2011 annual literacy survey in relation to the level of support for reading that children get from their parents. These are some of the key issues:

  • Over four fifths of respondents receive some encouragement for reading from their mothers.
  • Fathers are far less likely to support their children’s reading, with one in three fathers giving no encouragement at all.
  • Mothers are twice as likely to be seen reading by their children as fathers, with a third of fathers never seen reading.
  • The level of fathers’ support has decreased since 2005, as has the proportion who are seen reading.
  • Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to get encouragement to read and to see their parents read, particularly their fathers.
  • Children from White backgrounds are less likely than those from Black, Asian or Mixed backgrounds to get encouragement to read from their fathers and to see them reading.
  • Children whose parents encourage them to read achieve higher reading levels at school,and are more likely to see themselves as readers, to enjoy reading and to read frequently.
  • The same applies to children who see their parents read.

The report points out that family support for literacy does not require high academic ability or substantial financial resources. It concludes that more must be done to increase parents’, especially fathers’, awareness of the important role they play in supporting their children’s literacy. The findings and conclusion certainly chime with my experience as a family literacy tutor. I have witnessed over and over the difference that effective support for parents and carers can make to children’s reading. It’s why I love giving training on family literacy and family learning – I know first hand the value of good interventions. (And it was fantastic to have lots of fathers and grandfathers at my most recent workshop for parents and carers just last week. Male role models matter.)

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Children’s and Young People’s Reading Today

The National Literacy Trust has published its annual report Children’s and Young People’s Reading Today. Many of the findings are depressing.

  • Only 3 young people in 10 now read daily in their own time, down from 4 in 10 in 2005.
  • Over a fifth rarely or never read in their own time.
  • More than a quarter only read when they have to.
  • 17% would be embarrassed if their friends saw them reading.
  • Reading across all formats has gone down since 2005.
  • Boys remain significantly less keen on reading than girls.
  • Only a third of KS4 students enjoy reading, compared with nearly three quarters of KS2 pupils.

There is a clear link between reading outside of class and achievement. Young people who read outside of class daily are thirteen times more likely to read above the expected level for their age. Conversely, young people who do not enjoy reading at all are nearly ten times as likely to be reading below the expected level for their age than young people who enjoy reading very much.

This report highlights yet again the importance of reading promotion.