A book for every child: how a love of reading helps over a lifetime
Published on: 11 May 2017 Author: Jake Hope
Librarian and all-round reading superhero Jake Hope looks at how books help a child explore their feelings and deal with the world as they grow up. And he knows just the thing to inspire the readers of the future...
So many possibilities and pathways unfold when we open a book. This simple act can whisk us away into other worlds or transport us through time, unfurling new ways of thinking and feeling.
It's an extraordinary process and one whose power and potency can leave a lasting impression - or even a lifetime's. However, with thousands upon thousands of children's books published every year, choosing what to read can sometimes feel daunting.
This is where BookTrust's Bookbuzz reading programme can help.
'Sparking minds and imaginations'
Since its launch in 2012, Bookbuzz has been sparking minds and imaginations, offering 11-13 year olds the chance to pick their own book from a carefully chosen list, bringing together a range of different ability levels, genres and styles.
The list is picked by a panel of experts to ensure there is something to suit all tastes - but how does this happen?
Choosing the Bookbuzz books
The process begins when BookTrust selects eight to ten panellists. Each has a different background and approach to books, is highly knowledgeable and experienced in the field of reading, and has a voracious appetite for stories and information!
Every panellist is sent an enticing box of books. It's then that the fun begins, delving into the treasure trove of titles, thinking about the way the characters are written, the adventures and journeys they go on, the types of places and times evoked, and how readers might engage and respond to them.
After reading the books, there is a day of deliberation at BookTrust. The panel discusses each book and considers their 'fit' in terms of style, reading ability and genre. We need to make sure there is a book that will excite and engage every reader, whatever their level of skill or confidence. It can be a challenge, as it means putting aside personal opinions, but the end-goal is clear: to ensure the very best selection and range of books for the year's programme.
Why does all this matter?
I have very clear memories of starting at secondary school. Having attended a small village primary school in a sleepy parish, the switch from this quiet backwater to a larger and more urban high school felt disorientating and a little overwhelming.
I found sanctuary and solace in books, and the changes that characters went through gave context to those I was encountering. This is what reading does so well. It helps prepare us and provides perspective for the changes we experience throughout life. And, while reading gives security and stability at the times we need it most, it simultaneously allows us escapism, too.
There is something hugely special and important about the books and stories we come across as we develop and grow. Many of these last with us throughout our lifetimes - their themes and messages recurring.
What makes Bookbuzz special
Bookbuzz is special because it helps sow an absolute love of books and reading - creating a buzz unlike any other - at a key time of transition for children. It gives root and foundations to future achievements, enjoyment and attainment.
It's exciting to wonder which of this year's books will be picked and taken to heart by Year 7 and 8 students - and where their reading journeys will take them!
Jake Hope is a reading development and children's book consultant. He was named one of only ten top librarians of the future and has worked as the reading development manager for one of the largest library authorities in the UK. Jake is a regular reviewer and commentator on all aspects of children's literature and has chaired numerous discussions and selection meetings. He has written on libraries, reading and visual literacy for numerous publications. Jake is a passionate advocate for reading and is rarely found without a book about his person.
Bookbuzz is a reading programme from BookTrust that aims to help schools inspire a love of reading in 11 to 13-year-olds. Participating schools give their students the opportunity to choose their own book to take home and keep from a list of 17 titles.