Young girl reading in her school library

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Creating a reading culture in a school is essential if you want to encourage students to become engaged and motivated readers. Developing a reading culture takes time and requires the commitment of the principal and staff. Collaboration between school staff, whānau, and local public library staff helps stimulate and reinforce a reading culture within the school and the wider community. Here we share some ideas for creating and supporting a reading culture in your school community.

  • Conditions required to create a reading culture

    To create a reading culture the principal and staff need:

    • to understand the impact of reading on student achievement
    • a shared vision of the school's reading culture
    • to know why a reading culture is important
    • to know what an engaged reader looks like
    • to fully support the library and its resources, services and programmes.
  • Conditions required to create a reading culture

    To create a reading culture the principal and staff need:

    • to understand the impact of reading on student achievement
    • a shared vision of the school's reading culture
    • to know why a reading culture is important
    • to know what an engaged reader looks like
    • to fully support the library and its resources, services and programmes.
  • Importance of reading for pleasure

    The importance of students reading for pleasure, to develop literacy skills and academic achievement, has been well-documented in New Zealand’s educational policies and guidelines, and international research.

    In the Competent children, competent learners longitudinal study, the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) highlighted that students reading for pleasure in their own time and at school was one of the critical factors for a successful pathway into adulthood.

    The Ministry of Education website Education Counts is a one-stop shop for education statistics and research, including Māori and Pasifika learner including information about the importance of reading.

    In the video Creating a school-wide reading culture staff and students from Auckland's Mahurangi College and Kingsford Primary School share insights on reading for pleasure, how it links to literacy, and what they do to get everyone in the school reading.

    Competent children, competent learners

    Scottish Book Trust

    Reading for pleasure

  • Importance of reading for pleasure

    The importance of students reading for pleasure, to develop literacy skills and academic achievement, has been well-documented in New Zealand’s educational policies and guidelines, and international research.

    In the Competent children, competent learners longitudinal study, the New Zealand Council for Educational Research (NZCER) highlighted that students reading for pleasure in their own time and at school was one of the critical factors for a successful pathway into adulthood.

    The Ministry of Education website Education Counts is a one-stop shop for education statistics and research, including Māori and Pasifika learner including information about the importance of reading.

    In the video Creating a school-wide reading culture staff and students from Auckland's Mahurangi College and Kingsford Primary School share insights on reading for pleasure, how it links to literacy, and what they do to get everyone in the school reading.

    Competent children, competent learners

    Scottish Book Trust

    Reading for pleasure

  • Creating a reading culture in your school

    When you walk around your school and visit your school website, what impression do you get of your school’s character? Is it proud of its sporting triumphs with a display case of trophies, or is the emphasis on art, the environment, religion, or does it celebrate taha Māori? What about reading? Does anything indicate that reading is important at your school?

    Below are ideas of ways to inspire a love of reading among staff (who are key reading role models) and students.

  • Creating a reading culture in your school

    When you walk around your school and visit your school website, what impression do you get of your school’s character? Is it proud of its sporting triumphs with a display case of trophies, or is the emphasis on art, the environment, religion, or does it celebrate taha Māori? What about reading? Does anything indicate that reading is important at your school?

    Below are ideas of ways to inspire a love of reading among staff (who are key reading role models) and students.

  • Reading promotion displays around the school

    Displays in foyers, corridors, principal’s office and in the grounds around the school are a useful way to promote a school-wide reading culture.

    School entrance foyer

    In your school entrance foyer you could have:

    • signs on display about reading – maybe a slogan such as Kids who read succeed, or XYZ School children are readers or quotes about reading
    • notices of reading events – challenges or incentives in-school, visiting authors, book awards
    • photos of children reading, staff reading, other reading role models
    • the principal's recommended 'book of the week'"
    • promotion of the public library.

    School corridors and noticeboards

    In your school corridors and noticeboards you could display:

    • signs pointing to the library, footprints heading in that direction – how many steps to the library?
    • notices with the library opening hours and students on duty in the library
    • the library quiz of the week – come to the library to find the answers and enter a competition
    • student work about books – art, writing inspired by books, reviews
    • information about new books coming to the library, and events coming up
    • quotes about reading, favourite opening lines of books, favourite characters.

    The principal's office

    The principal can support a school-wide reading culture by:

    • having signs in or around their office to show anyone visiting that the principal thinks reading is important, for example, quotes, favourite children's books, student work about reading, books for parents about helping children be readers
    • reading during school-wide Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) that includes the students and all school staff reading.

    Outside in the school grounds

    Walking outside a school with a reading culture you might see:

    • Signs pointing to the library, footprints heading in that direction – how many steps to the library?
    • A poetry walk around the school.
  • Reading promotion displays around the school

    Displays in foyers, corridors, principal’s office and in the grounds around the school are a useful way to promote a school-wide reading culture.

    School entrance foyer

    In your school entrance foyer you could have:

    • signs on display about reading – maybe a slogan such as Kids who read succeed, or XYZ School children are readers or quotes about reading
    • notices of reading events – challenges or incentives in-school, visiting authors, book awards
    • photos of children reading, staff reading, other reading role models
    • the principal's recommended 'book of the week'"
    • promotion of the public library.

    School corridors and noticeboards

    In your school corridors and noticeboards you could display:

    • signs pointing to the library, footprints heading in that direction – how many steps to the library?
    • notices with the library opening hours and students on duty in the library
    • the library quiz of the week – come to the library to find the answers and enter a competition
    • student work about books – art, writing inspired by books, reviews
    • information about new books coming to the library, and events coming up
    • quotes about reading, favourite opening lines of books, favourite characters.

    The principal's office

    The principal can support a school-wide reading culture by:

    • having signs in or around their office to show anyone visiting that the principal thinks reading is important, for example, quotes, favourite children's books, student work about reading, books for parents about helping children be readers
    • reading during school-wide Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) that includes the students and all school staff reading.

    Outside in the school grounds

    Walking outside a school with a reading culture you might see:

    • Signs pointing to the library, footprints heading in that direction – how many steps to the library?
    • A poetry walk around the school.
  • Reading promotion in staffrooms and classrooms

    Staffrooms and classrooms are great places to promote a school-wide reading culture.

    The school staffroom and reading promotion

    Schools with strong reading cultures usually have staff who love reading and talking about books so you might see:

    • professional reading about children's books
    • information from the library, and promotion, about new, interesting, particular resources
    • notices promoting professional development for staff on childrens' and young adult (YA) literature
    • noticeboards with information about events, must-reads, awards, recommended read-alouds.

    What teachers can do in their classrooms

    In classrooms, you can set an example, of being a reader, to students by:

    • reading aloud every day
    • making time for your students to read
    • having plenty of great books on display
    • sharing your own reading, and reading in front of students.

    School staff as readers

    What students need in their classrooms

    In classes students need to be able to:

    • hear stories, share recommendations, discuss books, use the library as a class and independently
    • talk about what they have read last, what they are reading now, what they are going to read next
    • have buddy readers, some will be reading mentors or reading champions in the school
    • have books with them during 'waiting times'.
  • Reading promotion in staffrooms and classrooms

    Staffrooms and classrooms are great places to promote a school-wide reading culture.

    The school staffroom and reading promotion

    Schools with strong reading cultures usually have staff who love reading and talking about books so you might see:

    • professional reading about children's books
    • information from the library, and promotion, about new, interesting, particular resources
    • notices promoting professional development for staff on childrens' and young adult (YA) literature
    • noticeboards with information about events, must-reads, awards, recommended read-alouds.

    What teachers can do in their classrooms

    In classrooms, you can set an example, of being a reader, to students by:

    • reading aloud every day
    • making time for your students to read
    • having plenty of great books on display
    • sharing your own reading, and reading in front of students.

    School staff as readers

    What students need in their classrooms

    In classes students need to be able to:

    • hear stories, share recommendations, discuss books, use the library as a class and independently
    • talk about what they have read last, what they are reading now, what they are going to read next
    • have buddy readers, some will be reading mentors or reading champions in the school
    • have books with them during 'waiting times'.
  • Creating a reading culture in a secondary school

    To create a reading culture in a secondary school it's important that all teachers are readers and understand the importance of reading for pleasure in supporting learning. One way of doing this is to encourage teachers of all subjects, not just English, to include fiction in their classes.

    Genres for young adult and young fiction has examples of books that may be relevant to teachers

  • Creating a reading culture in a secondary school

    To create a reading culture in a secondary school it's important that all teachers are readers and understand the importance of reading for pleasure in supporting learning. One way of doing this is to encourage teachers of all subjects, not just English, to include fiction in their classes.

    Genres for young adult and young fiction has examples of books that may be relevant to teachers

  • School library — heart of a school's reading culture

    The video Creating a reading culture — Windley School is an example of the school library's pivotal role in creating a reading culture and supporting reading engagement throughout the school.

    What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it feels about education.
    — Harold Howe, former US Commissioner of Education.

    School librarians and principals can help instil a reading culture in a school by ensuring the library:

    • is well-resourced, well-staffed and well-used — a vital catalyst for the reading culture of your school
    • is included in visitors’ tours of the school
    • is used for events
    • is included in the teachers’ lunchtime duty rosters.

    It is also important that:

    • teachers collaborate with the librarian/s and use the library as an essential resource for their literacy programmes and initiatives
    • evidence is displayed of the library staff encouraging students' development as readers, through the library's environment, resources and services.

    Librarians' role in creating readers

  • School library — heart of a school's reading culture

    The video Creating a reading culture — Windley School is an example of the school library's pivotal role in creating a reading culture and supporting reading engagement throughout the school.

    What a school thinks about its library is a measure of what it feels about education.
    — Harold Howe, former US Commissioner of Education.

    School librarians and principals can help instil a reading culture in a school by ensuring the library:

    • is well-resourced, well-staffed and well-used — a vital catalyst for the reading culture of your school
    • is included in visitors’ tours of the school
    • is used for events
    • is included in the teachers’ lunchtime duty rosters.

    It is also important that:

    • teachers collaborate with the librarian/s and use the library as an essential resource for their literacy programmes and initiatives
    • evidence is displayed of the library staff encouraging students' development as readers, through the library's environment, resources and services.

    Librarians' role in creating readers

  • Use assemblies, online presence and the community

    Other ways of promoting reading in your school include:

    • having teachers and students promote books at the school assembly — briefly, regularly and enthusiastically
    • mentioning books and reading and the role reading played in success at other school gatherings or events such as prize-givings or parent and teacher interviews
    • regular reading and book celebrations — not just once a year in book week, but each term hold an event or activity to promote reading
    • encouraging guest speakers (including sportspeople, entertainers, 'people who help us') to mention reading and the role it plays in their lives when they are speaking to students.

    Student leaders

    As peers, school librarians and student leaders are important role models and can help promote reading by:

    • promoting books at the school assembly
    • displaying photos in the library of them reading during the holidays
    • being given status and recognition.

    Reader-friendly environments

    Creating an online presence

    There are numerous ways your school can promote a reading culture online including:

    • displaying information on the school's website, intranet, blog, library home page about reading, readers, research, resources and links
    • getting students to participate online in appropriate forums, such as LIANZA Book week consecutive story or graphic novel illustration competition, student writing sites, and book review sites.

    Read about engaging teens with reading

    Reading promotion

    In the community

    The school’s local community plays an important role in a reading culture. Look out for:

    • opportunities to get articles in the local paper about the school's focus on reading, about reading events, celebrations, milestones, library developments
    • possible links between the school and public library — class visits
    • the annual Kids' Lit Quiz for students in Year 6 – 8
    • other book events such as the annual Reading Superheroes competition, Storylines, Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, and Library Week.

    Kids' Lit Quiz

    Storylines

    Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

  • Use assemblies, online presence and the community

    Other ways of promoting reading in your school include:

    • having teachers and students promote books at the school assembly — briefly, regularly and enthusiastically
    • mentioning books and reading and the role reading played in success at other school gatherings or events such as prize-givings or parent and teacher interviews
    • regular reading and book celebrations — not just once a year in book week, but each term hold an event or activity to promote reading
    • encouraging guest speakers (including sportspeople, entertainers, 'people who help us') to mention reading and the role it plays in their lives when they are speaking to students.

    Student leaders

    As peers, school librarians and student leaders are important role models and can help promote reading by:

    • promoting books at the school assembly
    • displaying photos in the library of them reading during the holidays
    • being given status and recognition.

    Reader-friendly environments

    Creating an online presence

    There are numerous ways your school can promote a reading culture online including:

    • displaying information on the school's website, intranet, blog, library home page about reading, readers, research, resources and links
    • getting students to participate online in appropriate forums, such as LIANZA Book week consecutive story or graphic novel illustration competition, student writing sites, and book review sites.

    Read about engaging teens with reading

    Reading promotion

    In the community

    The school’s local community plays an important role in a reading culture. Look out for:

    • opportunities to get articles in the local paper about the school's focus on reading, about reading events, celebrations, milestones, library developments
    • possible links between the school and public library — class visits
    • the annual Kids' Lit Quiz for students in Year 6 – 8
    • other book events such as the annual Reading Superheroes competition, Storylines, Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, and Library Week.

    Kids' Lit Quiz

    Storylines

    Ockham New Zealand Book Awards