Three top tips for creating a culture of reading for pleasure in your school
Published on: 08 November 2022
Farshore ran a Reading for Pleasure award for teachers – and the entries were incredibly impressive. Six schools were chosen as worthy winners. There were some similar themes between them, such as getting the teachers reading, letting children choose books for themselves and diversifying the bookshelves, and some stunningly original ideas.
Here are three interesting projects from the winners, to inspire and delight! Watch out for three more in December.
Illustration: Erika Meza
1. Creating art inspired by a favourite book: My Books My Story
The Virtual School for Children in Care and the County Council’s Culture Leicestershire
Children and young people in the care of Leicestershire County Council were given the opportunity to create art inspired by a favourite book with the aim of supporting, enhancing, embedded, sharing and celebrating reading for pleasure. Hundreds of school visits, library trips, home visits, book groups, art workshops and even a trip to the zoo have resulted in the amazing exhibition.
Using their chosen book as an inspiration, deeper feelings and messages have been explored and shared.
The art produced and the books it was inspired by have been shared through three different formats: A four-week pop-up exhibition in Leicester’s main shopping centre; an interactive online exhibition; a travelling exhibition to be showcased in community spaces including Libraries and Museums.
Over 3000 people visited the exhibition. Over 150 visitors contributed to the wider project by using the space to read for pleasure and share their own art linked to it. Over 200 people visited the virtual exhibition in the first two days.
My Books My Story means different things to each young person who has been involved.
Some used the experience to reflect, others really connected with the characters. It was a joy to share in the enthusiasm.
The inspiration the young people have enjoyed during the project has been infectious. Here are their words. When you read them, please consider the backgrounds and experiences children in care have.
We made reading an exciting journey. Please visit the virtual exhibition which brings the project to life.
2. Voting for the class reading book
South Wilford Endowed Primary School
After asking the Reception children to talk about their favourite books, I realised that they were drawn towards classic children’s texts, Disney and superhero books and magazines, and more importantly pre-school and toddler books. I would normally shy away from providing these types of books, considering them ‘too young’, ‘too basic’ and poorer for language development. But they are a clear area of safety and comfort for them – true reading for pleasure in early years. To address this and bring these texts into our class I decided to hold a class story voting system twice a week. This involved presenting two pre-school books or books that follow their interests (non-curriculum/topic focused) and for the children to vote for them by placing their morning registration pebble on the book of their choice.
This was a huge success for driving book talk, book preferences and following interests. However, I began to notice several children would move other children’s pebbles or swap the pebbles over before I had read out the winning book because they were so keen to get their choice! This is when I introduced two plain but tall boxes for the pebbles to go into. This way the children were not guided by which book had the most pebbles on it but on their own desire of which book they would like. It also created an air of mystery and excitement about which book would have the most pebbles.
This voting system has been such a success it is now firmly embedded as a twice weekly event that the children look forward to.
3. Widening children’s experiences of books in the library
Cheadle Catholic Infants School
We felt that both the staff and the children were becoming over-reliant on the same familiar titles. Another motivating factor in widening our knowledge of children’s books was that we wanted to make sure that the books we shared with the children are representative of the world our children live in.
With help from the experts at the Cheshire Education Library Service and some parent volunteers, the library has been transformed from a space that was used to store books into a lending library.
Children have helped to inform the books we stock and we have been so pleased to see that texts such as cookery books, craft books and poetry are becoming very popular as the word spreads from child to child.
We are also committed to making sure that characters in our books mirror the diverse society our children live in. We have an increasing number of books written by and depicting people of different colours, faiths and ethnicities and will continue to make this a priority as our library grows.
The library has proven so popular that we also use it for lunchtime book clubs with Year 1 and 2 children who love to come in for some quiet time to read a book or listen to a story being read by an adult.
As a strategy for widening the children’s knowledge of authors, every class in school has adopted an author. This author has a special place in the class library and their books are read and reread with the children regularly.
Most of the authors are based in the UK. The authors have been chosen to be a true representation of wider society with an equal number of male and females and three authors who are from a black or minority ethnic background, one for each year group. This year we are trialling swapping our adopted authors halfway through the year to expose children to more authors. In this way, by the end of their Infant School journey the children will be able to talk about at least six authors and their work in detail.
It has also been really interesting to see how different classes in the same year group are developing their own tastes. For example, one Year 2 class is very keen on the Dogman series while another has a waiting list for Beast Quest and Rainbow Magic Fairy books. It has also been invaluable to have access to Cheshire Education Library Service who have a wealth of expertise and knowledge and can recommend authors, illustrators, poets and books which keep us moving forwards.
Feeling inspired? Keep an eye out for three more useful tips in December, or share your own with us on Twitter @BookTrust!.