At the beginning of the summer holidays, a group of North Lanarkshire School Librarians met for Reading Boot Camp, an opportunity to discuss pupils’ reading for enjoyment. This grew out of a discussion on our local forum about pupils selecting books that they recognised from television or film, having the stamina to read far enough into a book to care about what happened, and the assumption that all pupils knew how story works.
To get started, each person described their current work with fiction, detailing the year groups involved, how often they were involved, ideas that worked and issues that arose. Given all schools are different in pupil numbers, layout and staffing, naturally their respective Libraries will reflect those differences e.g. weekly or even fortnightly access to the Library is often impossible in larger schools.
These short introductions acted as jumping off points for wider discussions including:
- the Librarian’s role in supporting the mechanics of learning to read;
- Paired Reading: run by different groups in different schools (or not at all) including Support for Learning, Partnership Officers and Buddying schemes, with or without Librarian input;
- splitting Library time between Information Literacy and Reading for Pleasure?
- how to make reading ‘normal’ for more pupils?
- supporting the number of readers that don’t tend to use the Library but buy their own books;
- supporting the number of pupils who don’t know how to choose a book;
- identifying the basics of stories – fairy tales, nursery rhymes, picture books etc;
- helping pupils become more familiar with a wider range of writers, characters and stories – so many pupils only know stories made into films;
- the role of audio books, and their respective issues with format, copyright etc;
- trying something new vs re-reading old favourites;
- making reading visible: talking to pupils about own reading, encouraging staff to read along with class, Drop Everything and Read sessions (D.E.A.R.);
- the value of reading aloud – could all lessons be introduced with a relevant reading?
- the value of oral stortelling;
- the value of ‘reading periods’;
- dealing with the eternal shelf wanderers who will not settle with any book;
- silence or quiet discussion with friends?
- pupil concentration levels: books versus games;
- encouraging pupils to think of themselves as readers;
- whether books fit in a culture of instant gratification;
- value of colour coding, genre layout, changes in stock layout?
- the implicit criticism in what pupils ‘should be reading’ and what they’re comfortable with/capable of;
- ‘laziness’ of capable readers;
- value of competitive edge?
- ideas from recent training days and articles.
It was clear that there are plenty of great initiatives taking place already, all deserving of a wider audience (and hopefully some will appear here soon!)
The first Reading Boot Camp sparked lots of ideas, provided a great deal to consider, and left all of the participants enthused and looking forward to the next meeting.