A collection of bright picture books

School librarians are an important member of the group of adults charged with creating readers, which includes parents, teachers, librarians. Strategies range from providing opportunities to read for pleasure and a diverse collection to partnering with families, public librarians and teaching staff.

  • School librarians and 'reader development'

    Rachel Van Riel, Director of Opening the book, developed the concept of 'reader development' to encourage, support and foster audience engagement with reading and literature. Reader development involves active intervention, 'selling' the reading experience and what it can do for the reader to:

    • increase children's confidence and enjoyment of reading
    • open up reading choices
    • offer opportunities for people to share their reading experience
    • raise the status of reading as a creative activity.

    Opening the book

    Your school library team

  • School librarians and 'reader development'

    Rachel Van Riel, Director of Opening the book, developed the concept of 'reader development' to encourage, support and foster audience engagement with reading and literature. Reader development involves active intervention, 'selling' the reading experience and what it can do for the reader to:

    • increase children's confidence and enjoyment of reading
    • open up reading choices
    • offer opportunities for people to share their reading experience
    • raise the status of reading as a creative activity.

    Opening the book

    Your school library team

  • Develop a reader centred library collection and services

    Take a reader-centred approach rather than a library-centred approach. Observe library users, and carry out research to test your assumptions on various elements of library use. Discuss findings with staff and use this information to build a profile of your community. This will help you develop reading programmes and a diverse, relevant and culturally inclusive collection that will appeal to all students.

    Knowing your students’ interests as well as their reading abilities will also help you to match books with readers and to do 'book talks' most likely to engage students.

    Helping students choose books

    Ways to help students to choose books include:

    • creating reader-friendly environments using clear, helpful signage and attractively displayed resources with plenty of face-out display of book covers
    • interacting with students in amongst the shelves creates valuable opportunities to chat with with readers and be part of the reading conversation
    • building an inclusive collection with a wide range of resources and formats
    • promoting books across ages such as promoting sophisticated picture books and easy reading fiction as “quick reads” to older children, helping encourage struggling readers to find books that suit their abilities.

    Present the collection in interesting and creative ways

    Escape from genre and author displays, bring books together in unusual combinations with a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Use surprise and discovery. Examples such as: Journeys, Take a bite, Spooked, Discover, Dream. There is a wide scope here and you can check out other examples and resources on Opening the book’s website.

    Opening the book

  • Develop a reader centred library collection and services

    Take a reader-centred approach rather than a library-centred approach. Observe library users, and carry out research to test your assumptions on various elements of library use. Discuss findings with staff and use this information to build a profile of your community. This will help you develop reading programmes and a diverse, relevant and culturally inclusive collection that will appeal to all students.

    Knowing your students’ interests as well as their reading abilities will also help you to match books with readers and to do 'book talks' most likely to engage students.

    Helping students choose books

    Ways to help students to choose books include:

    • creating reader-friendly environments using clear, helpful signage and attractively displayed resources with plenty of face-out display of book covers
    • interacting with students in amongst the shelves creates valuable opportunities to chat with with readers and be part of the reading conversation
    • building an inclusive collection with a wide range of resources and formats
    • promoting books across ages such as promoting sophisticated picture books and easy reading fiction as “quick reads” to older children, helping encourage struggling readers to find books that suit their abilities.

    Present the collection in interesting and creative ways

    Escape from genre and author displays, bring books together in unusual combinations with a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Use surprise and discovery. Examples such as: Journeys, Take a bite, Spooked, Discover, Dream. There is a wide scope here and you can check out other examples and resources on Opening the book’s website.

    Opening the book

  • Work collaboratively with your community

    Collaborating with teachers, parents and whānau and local public library staff is an important way of helping stimulate and reinforce a reading culture within the school and school community. Activities might include:

    • promoting a print-rich environment in the library, classrooms, online and at home
    • delivering an annual programme of reading, writing and oral language activities
    • organising special events supporting literacy.

    A school-wide reading culture

    Collaborating with teachers

    Library staff can work in partnership with teachers by exchanging ideas and co-creating opportunities to support student literacy initiatives.

    Examples of successful library staff collaborations with teachers include:

    • promotion of sophisticated picture books
    • working with English teachers to ensure best possible outcomes for students and the school’s NCEA programme
    • working with literacy leaders to increase teacher knowledge of literature for children and young people, including digital resources. This could form part of your school’s professional learning programme.

    Sophisticated picture books

    School staff as readers

    Liaising with parents and whānau

    Ways you can help readers by involving parents and whānau include:

    • providing selected book lists to parents targeted to their child’s interests and reading level
    • inviting parents into the library to choose books for and with their children
    • promoting series fiction to parents
    • sending messages home to parents about great read-alouds and great new books.

    Home-school reading partnerships has information about fostering literacy at home.

  • Work collaboratively with your community

    Collaborating with teachers, parents and whānau and local public library staff is an important way of helping stimulate and reinforce a reading culture within the school and school community. Activities might include:

    • promoting a print-rich environment in the library, classrooms, online and at home
    • delivering an annual programme of reading, writing and oral language activities
    • organising special events supporting literacy.

    A school-wide reading culture

    Collaborating with teachers

    Library staff can work in partnership with teachers by exchanging ideas and co-creating opportunities to support student literacy initiatives.

    Examples of successful library staff collaborations with teachers include:

    • promotion of sophisticated picture books
    • working with English teachers to ensure best possible outcomes for students and the school’s NCEA programme
    • working with literacy leaders to increase teacher knowledge of literature for children and young people, including digital resources. This could form part of your school’s professional learning programme.

    Sophisticated picture books

    School staff as readers

    Liaising with parents and whānau

    Ways you can help readers by involving parents and whānau include:

    • providing selected book lists to parents targeted to their child’s interests and reading level
    • inviting parents into the library to choose books for and with their children
    • promoting series fiction to parents
    • sending messages home to parents about great read-alouds and great new books.

    Home-school reading partnerships has information about fostering literacy at home.

  • Supporting struggling readers

    There are many reasons a student may struggle with reading and the school librarian is uniquely placed to help students find 'just the right book' — the best book for the student's need, at the right time, in the right format and at the right level.

    By working with students, and monitoring their progress and developing confidence, you can help them transition by providing 'stepping stones', from picture books to fiction for example.

    Using books that are part of a series is a good way to encourage reluctant or struggling readers to engage with reading. Hooking a reader into the first of a series, helps them to then easily choose their next book in the series. They enjoy the books and become more confident and fluent in their reading.

    Peer recommendations and series are also good ways to encourage reluctant or struggling readers to engage with reading.

    Helping students choose books for reading pleasure

  • Supporting struggling readers

    There are many reasons a student may struggle with reading and the school librarian is uniquely placed to help students find 'just the right book' — the best book for the student's need, at the right time, in the right format and at the right level.

    By working with students, and monitoring their progress and developing confidence, you can help them transition by providing 'stepping stones', from picture books to fiction for example.

    Using books that are part of a series is a good way to encourage reluctant or struggling readers to engage with reading. Hooking a reader into the first of a series, helps them to then easily choose their next book in the series. They enjoy the books and become more confident and fluent in their reading.

    Peer recommendations and series are also good ways to encourage reluctant or struggling readers to engage with reading.

    Helping students choose books for reading pleasure

  • Working with able readers

    Many able readers are happy to select their own books and are eager to progress their own reading. Nevertheless, these students enjoy and benefit from interaction and encouragement from the librarian.

    To further engage able-readers librarians may organise a variety of programmes and activities such as:

    • literature circles
    • reading parties
    • buddy reading
    • reading logs.
  • Working with able readers

    Many able readers are happy to select their own books and are eager to progress their own reading. Nevertheless, these students enjoy and benefit from interaction and encouragement from the librarian.

    To further engage able-readers librarians may organise a variety of programmes and activities such as:

    • literature circles
    • reading parties
    • buddy reading
    • reading logs.
  • Initiate and host events in the library

    You can initiate events to promote reading and encourage the school community to host events in the school library. Ideas include:

    • events to encourage and excite readers of all levels such as reading challenges and incentives with targets and rewards
    • reading aloud to groups, so children of all reading abilities share the experience of the story
    • award ceremonies
    • celebrations, literary lunches
    • highlighting special events such as Book Week, Duffy Books in Home assemblies, Language Weeks, and community celebrations. Include guest speakers such as community leaders, authors and illustrators.

    Reading promotion

  • Initiate and host events in the library

    You can initiate events to promote reading and encourage the school community to host events in the school library. Ideas include:

    • events to encourage and excite readers of all levels such as reading challenges and incentives with targets and rewards
    • reading aloud to groups, so children of all reading abilities share the experience of the story
    • award ceremonies
    • celebrations, literary lunches
    • highlighting special events such as Book Week, Duffy Books in Home assemblies, Language Weeks, and community celebrations. Include guest speakers such as community leaders, authors and illustrators.

    Reading promotion

  • Find out more

    Gifted and Talented Online — Ministry of Education

    School Librarian's Role in Reading Toolkit — American Association of School Librarians (AASL)

    Resources for parents of gifted children — Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG)

  • Find out more

    Gifted and Talented Online — Ministry of Education

    School Librarian's Role in Reading Toolkit — American Association of School Librarians (AASL)

    Resources for parents of gifted children — Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG)

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