How to get children to use your school library
Published on: 02 November 2018 Author: Emma Suffield
Are you looking for new ways to increase library loans at your high school? Emma Suffield has just been awarded the School Librarian of the Year 2018, and has loads of brilliant ideas to get your students reading for pleasure.
In just over five years, book loans at my school library in Blackburn have risen by 450 per cent.
Well, here are just a few things that worked for me at Saint Wilfrid’s Academy...
1. Book suggestions
One of the most important things to create a successful busy library is to have the books that the students want to read. I have a book suggestion box where students can fill in a sheet regarding their chosen book. I look through these every half term and purchase what I can. I ask the students who write the suggestion down to add their name so they get first refusal when the book(s) arrive.
2. "Get caught reading" raffle
Rewarding students for reading really works at Saint Wilfrid’s and encourages others to start reading during their free time. During break and lunch times, the student librarians will issue a raffle ticket to any student reading in silence for over 15 minutes. Students can receive only one raffle ticket a day but as many as they deserve in a half term. The winning student is awarded a "goodie bag" in assembly.
3. Ask the Book Jar
Some students don’t always know what they want to read but have an idea of what genre of book they do like. Having our "book jar" on the library desk with suggested reads allocated to certain genres can really help students to choose a book, especially if the librarian is busy with other students.
The big thing for me is creating a fun reading environment within school. I have three book clubs and a Stan Lee Excelsior Award club, which have both grown over the past few years. Yes, it is time consuming but so rewarding. We do fun activities like group reading, shadowing awards, having book club bake off, liaising with schools around the world through recommendation postcards (an idea adapted from Lucas Maxwell), as well as liaising with authors (especially through the #bookpenpals scheme). I have also run Harry Potter Book Nights, Murder Mystery Nights, and had authors and poets visit the library, which can be so rewarding for students.
5. Other budget-friendly ideas
As budgets affect the running of a library, it is nice when there is access to "free" books to help with library stock. That's why I run two scholastic book fairs every year! Commission from these book fairs help to purchase books for the school library and for book clubs.
The BookTrust School Library Pack is also a great way to help fund new books for book clubs.
If you register, the pack includes 40 free books across three categories, with five titles per category. The pack is perfect for promoting reading for pleasure.
We also run DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) with students on a weekly basis, which encourages ALL students to come and visit the library to take out a reading book.