'The children's delight was heartwarming': The power of the Special School Library Pack
Published on: 08 November 2019
Our Special School Library Pack is a set of 10 books and accompanying resources designed to help bring books to life for 11-14 year olds in special schools.
We spoke to Caroline and Lyn, who both work at special school Charlton Park Academy in South East London and helped us to make this year's Special School Library Pack.
How were you involved in this year's Special School Library Pack?
Caroline: I was part of the panel that decided which of the books put forward by publishers would be the best selection for the pack. It was a brilliant day of bookish discussion and a very difficult decision!
I then arranged for classes at school to have a first look at the books while a BookTrust photographer took pictures, and that was where Lyn first got involved.
Lyn: We were asked to browse the books prior to the launch to see how they would be received by Year 7 to Year 9 students in our special education needs and disabilities
environment. As a SEND school we were very happy to participate, as some of our children may only have access to such books at school or via public libraries.
I was also fortunate to be part of the working team that produced some of the activities that are provided in the resource booklet. I enjoyed this experience and it was good to see that teachers who are skilled and experienced practitioners were able to participate and contribute to the project.
How did your students react to this year's books?
Caroline: Their enthusiasm was wonderful to watch, particularly over the more sensory books in the collection. There wasn't a single book that wasn't picked up by a student to pore over, either alone or with a member of staff.
Lyn: My students loved the different genres. They all have different educational and physical needs, so it was great to see them accessing such books independently and with our staff teams. The delight they experienced was heartwarming to see. Each time they picked up the books, they were excited as much as the first time.
How are you going to use this year's pack?
Caroline: Some of the books will be added to the lending collection or the mobile library for students to enjoy, but I'll also use some for reading to classes and talking about, or to create displays around. The very sensory books I'll save to use with particular classes.
Lyn: I have a different cohort of students so sharing them again will be wonderful for my students, and personally re-reading them too.
Why did you find the Special School Library Pack such a useful resource?
Caroline: It is always fabulous to see new books, or even get new copies of books we already love. And the guides that BookTrust supply give teachers some great ideas for using the books with a range of students.
Lyn: The resources and texts available can be used as stand-alone texts or as an introduction to a new topic. My students will use the books independently, with a friend or as reading partner books with adults in my team. My students are big book lovers and are always excited to see new books arrive. We will be using them in a variety of ways, including student engagement in pleasurable learning and in curriculum learning too.
The ten Special School Library Pack titles were selected by a panel of SEND practitioners to include a variety of accessible formats.
The resource guide to accompany these books was co-produced with teachers, teaching assistants and librarians to give inspiration for how to make the most of these books in your school.
A big thank you to everyone who donated to the BookTrust appeal. With your amazing support, we have sent surprise book gifts to over 12,250 vulnerable children to bring joy and brighten their Christmas.