As you know reading fosters empathy, language skills are developed, improved focus and concentration, mental stimulation, vocabulary expansion, better writing skills among other things. There is a need to know how to promote a reading culture at school and find fun ways to motivate students to love reading. Enjoy this list of mine for ways the school library and all staff can promote a reading culture for students and the community:
- Let students see educators reading. Lead by example. Talk to students about the book we are reading. Let them know what we have gained and learnt.
- Invite an Author to the library to discuss their book.
- Teach students reading strategies (repeated reading) so they feel confident. It doesn’t matter if you read the same book again.
- Set up a book club and reading groups during lunch times/before school for students to socialize and share their thoughts on the book they are reading. This interaction makes their reading so much more enjoyable and it enhances their comprehension skills. This is a great way to develop a community of readers that fosters a reading relationship through shared reading and discussion. Let the club members choose their books – this encourages students to step outside their comfort zone and explore new genres.
- This is obvious but crucial, let students choose their own books and even encourage and introduce students to series books in adventure and fantasy. The Famous Five by Enid Blyton is making a comeback and very popular.
- Let students dislike a book. I always ask for feedback and advise students it is OK not to like the book. This way we can cater to the needs of the students. Student engagement is so important.
- Help students see the importance of reading just like we speak about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Laying out the benefits of reading may be the best way to develop an appreciation and encourage students to pick up a book.
- Displaying photos around the school and library of students reading books at home, or on holidays, with the family or anywhere. This will enhance a reading for pleasure and a positive relationship with books.
- Supportive and understanding parents are key to developing their child's reading. We need to educate parents on the importance of reading and time spent fostering literacy outside of the classroom is just as important as time spent inside the classroom. Having parent information nights in the library. Guiding parents to help their children practice reading menus, movie names, road signs, encourage reading is everywhere. Let students see parents reading magazines, newspapers and encourage children to read with them. Making connections between books and real life and visiting the local library. Parents talking about what they are reading enhancing comprehension skills.
- Encouraging all teachers at school to talk about their favourite book to students especially if they don't see parents reading at home. This will encourage great discussions and promote reading.
- Hosting a young author read-aloud. Inviting students to read an original story aloud to their peers, educators and parents. This gives students an opportunity to showcase their work and build confidence.
- Mystery Check Outs: Wrap books in wrapping paper and encourage students to blindly choose a “mystery book". This is an exciting and fun way to help students venture out of their comfort zone with a new author, genre or series. It is amazing what students will discover.
- Writing regular columns in the school newsletter, showcasing new releases and even writing short book reviews. Library staff writing about their favourite book of the week.
- Asking students to write how they would promote reading for pleasure. Having a suggestion box for the library.
- Promoting a book of the week, display, school newsletter, assembly.
- Asking students to make recommendations, especially reluctant readers. This helps students feel connected to the library and developing a positive relationship to reading.
- Host a theme library night by inviting students and their parents along to a themed night at the library where they can participate in activities. Genre themes such as action or fantasy.
- Ask students to help build and design a tree for the library. Paper leaves are then hung from the tree when students finished reading a book. This is a great display and promotes reading as the students will love to sit under the tree to read.
- Creating a reading wall. Using a door or wall to show what we have read, what we are reading, and thinking about reading next. The idea is to promote discussion with students, and they see us as a reader, and they will love to recommend a book to the staff.
- As students leave the library, we can take a photo of them holding the book they have checked out. Display these in the library. This will promote reading and students will provide advice to other students and promoting discussion.
About our guest author -
My name is Elena (Helen) Tomazin and I am the Library Technician at Good Shepherd Catholic School Lockridge in Western Australia. I have been at this school for 19 years commencing as a Teacher Assistant, then Library Officer and now Library Technician since 2012. I have a passion for Children’s Literature and Education. I am the Treasurer for the WA School Library Association (WASLA) in Western Australia and a WA Team Member for ALIA Children's Youth Service (Australian Library and Information Association). I am also very proud to be an Australian Global Influencer for the Education Influence Global Network established by Principal and Author Gavin McCormack who is one of my favourite Authors. I love his books because of their moral messages of kindness, friendship and inclusion.
I am very fortunate to be working with dedicated staff who share the same passion as myself to promote reading and literacy in our school and as a result we have a wonderful school culture and positive environment for students to become lifelong readers. The students love coming to the library. - Helen Tomazin