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An introduction to school librarianship
An introduction to school librarianship

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2 Other strategies to encourage reading

As you saw in the previous section, reading is key to helping students gain knowledge, nurture empathy, develop ideas, and understand the world in which we live. While some students need no encouragement to read, others may need to be guided, nudged and coaxed away from distractions such as social media, gaming and socialising. Boys, in particular, read less than girls and are less likely to enjoy reading, a gap which has widened during the COVID-19 pandemic (Clark and Picton, 2021; Department for Education, 2012). It is essential, therefore, to adopt strategies that encourage students, especially those who are reluctant readers, to develop good reading habits, which they can sustain. Previously, you considered how marketing in your library and around your school can help you achieve this. It is key, however, to recognise that marketing is not the only way you can encourage reading. There are various other strategies you may wish to adopt which can be implemented in various ways.

You may wish to approach matters from a broad perspective, ensuring your library stocks an inclusive and diverse range of books which allows all your library’s users to find something they enjoy. Alternatively, you may wish to adopt more focused methods, such as group work, structured reading schemes, author visits, or static displays. While some of these suggestions might be appropriate to use with all the students in your school, there may be some which are more suited to a particular demographic of student. Therefore, before implementing any of them you should identify the strategies that best suit you and your school’s needs. For example, according to he National Literacy Trust , boys were more likely than girls to report that listening to audiobooks had increased their interest in reading with more than 1 in 2 agreeing with the statement (Clark and Picton, 2020). Therefore, if you work in an all-boys school, placing an emphasis on audiobooks may be a useful way of encouraging the development of a reading-rich culture.

Getting to know students, their reading ability, and what motivates and interests them can also help you encourage reading for pleasure as you will be better able to direct students to resources which suit them. For example, for those with a low reading-age but a higher interest-age, using young adult books with limited vocabulary will be beneficial. Likewise, directing students with English as a Second Language (EASL) to a graphic version of a story can be a great way to maintain their engagement.

For students who are best motivated by rewards, a points-based reading scheme may be best suited. Reading schemes that allocate reading levels can be particularly helpful for helping students quickly and easily find books themselves, preventing them from walking around the library aimlessly or asking you to choose for them. Clearly marking the reading level can also help students pick books appropriate to their needs, rather than choosing books which may discourage them or make them feel stigmatised. Similarly, providing a set reading list can be a really helpful way of directing students who are overwhelmed by choice to books they might enjoy. Reading lists needn’t just include fiction books intended to be read in students’ spare time. They can also include useful subject-related content such as lists of useful websites, non-fiction books, DVDs and videos, as well as links to areas on your LMS, to exemplar work, and to research guides.

In the video below, Nick gives some examples of how he has encouraged reading at his school and offers some tips and advice based on his approach. After you have watched video, complete the activity to reflect on your current strategies and assess their strengths.

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Video 2
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Activity 2

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes

Describe two of your most successful reading strategies. Why do you think these strategies are successful? Then think about any other strategies you could employ.

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Your answer to this question will be personal to you. There are no right or wrong answers to this task, but one strategy you might choose to employ is to use pupil review bookmarks. These are custom made bookmarks which are given to students when a book is issued. After completing the book, students are encouraged to shade-in a star rating, write a brief comment about the book, and add their name. The bookmark is then inserted into the book before being returned to the shelf. This, in turn, serves to influence other students when browsing the shelves.

Some other initiatives you might consider adopting include Drop Everything and Read (D.E.A.R.), buddy schemes with older students, and the use of celebrity reading-role-models to help children find pleasure in reading. Making the most of events such as World Book Day and linking reading events to important social matters such as Black History Month and Pride can also help to promote books that students might otherwise not come across. Furthermore, schemes such the Oxford Reading Tree and Accelerated Reader are also useful as they provide an incremental framework that contributes to raising students’ reading ages and confidence in their reading ability. Getting all staff on board with your initiatives can help to build a whole school environment which supports reading for pleasure.

You may wish to set out new initiatives you plan to adopt in your library development plan. When doing so, it can also be helpful to consider any current or previous strategies you may have adopted and assess their success. To get you thinking about how you might approach this attempt the activity below.

Activity 3

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes

If applicable, are there any strategies you have tried previously which have not had the intended outcome? If so, why do you think that was?

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