West Auckland Te Kāhui Ako o Tiriwā Communities of Readers project
The National Library and primary schools in Kāhui Ako o Tiriwa agreed to partner in 2019. The project ended mid-2021 with on-going support from National Library facilitators and close relationships among partners.
Partners in West Auckland Te Kāhui Ako o Tiriwā Communities of Readers project
Reading achievement is a priority challenge for the schools in Kāhui Ako o Tiriwa. During the West Auckland Communities of Readers project, the five primary schools in the West Auckland Community of Readers worked together to encourage and enable teachers to nurture the joy of reading in their school.
The partners in this project included:
- Massey Primary
- Royal Road School
- West Harbour School
- Colwill School
- Lincoln Heights School
- Ministry of Education Auckland Regional Directorate, and
- National Library of New Zealand.
A focus on teachers as readers
To determine the focus of the project the school leaders were invited to complete a School Reading Culture Review tool, which is available for download from our ‘Create a school-wide reading culture page’.
The tool aims to generate discussion among school staff about their school’s current reading for pleasure practice, and helps identify areas of strength and those to develop and enhance.
A group of representatives from the schools — a mix of school leaders and library staff — met for a workshop to discuss the findings of the review. What became clear was that the schools were already doing some wonderful work to engage readers, albeit not always in a strategic or consistent way across classes.
Based on the review and workshop discussions, the project group agreed on a vision and focus for the project:
- Vision: Teachers pass on the joy of reading
- Mission: Working together to encourage and enable teachers to inspire their students to read for pleasure and wellbeing
Researchers from Auckland University of Technology
Researchers from The School of Education at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) undertook research for the project and attended meetings and events.
The researchers report on their findings from the project Making Reading for Pleasure Visible in Five Primary Schools from Te Kāhui Ako o Tiriwā provides more in depth information about the project. Their findings highlighted a number of factors that influence a school reading community such as:
- the importance of school leaders who role model reading, value and prioritise reading for pleasure in the school and provide explicit support for staff to implement a reading for pleasure pedagogy
- barriers to access to books in homes and how libraries, including the National Library can be leveraged to reduce inequity
- the social nature of reading and the importance of providing opportunities for book talk and chat
- and an increased awareness of the impact teachers who are reading role models have on students and on student’s parents and whānau.
Programme of events and professional development
A programme of professional development and activities began in mid-2020. This was adapted and iterated based on feedback at regular working group planning meetings, with timings adjusted to take into account various lockdowns. The focus was on supporting teachers to strengthen the culture of reading for pleasure by:
- developing an understanding of the influence of teachers as reading role models
- reading aloud to students of all ages
- developing knowledge of children’s and YA literature
- learning strategies to engage students with reading
- supporting summer reading initiatives.
Programme of activities included:
- three professional development and book celebration events for school leaders, teachers, library staff, as well as RT Lits from the area and public librarians.
- boosting schools’ existing collections of reading resources
- book loans
- author talks
- book shelves and loans for staffrooms
- summer reading sessions in school libraries
- development of a summer reading initiative by schools
- In school professional development sessions for staff and book talking sessions for students.
The three events were held over the course of the project for school leaders, teachers, library staff, as well as Resource Teachers Literacy (RT Lits) from the area and public librarians.
Event 1. The project launch — creating a school reading culture
The project was launched, albeit a delayed launch due to lockdowns, with an event at the Te Manawa public library in West Auckland, whihc was attended by 120 staff from the five schools.
The National Library presented a session on the benefits of reading for pleasure and the elements of a reading community and a ‘book talk’. This showcased a selection of exciting children's and YA books, which were among hundreds displayed at various genre tables at the event. National Library staff at the tables ‘book talked’ the books and attendees took away over 500 for personal reading and their classrooms. They were encouraged to swap, promote and discuss the books with students and colleagues in the Kahui ako.
‘Inspiring, positive and excited’ were some of the views from the event.
Event 2. Becoming reading role models — session two
Sessions for the second professional development event for the Kāhui Ako o Tiriwa project were split across age syndicates and held at the Te Manawa Public Library and Royal Road Primary School. National Library facilitators presented workshops focusing on teachers as readers. To support the kaupapa, National Library Services to Schools reading team members shared favourite books selected for each syndicate.
Event 3. Authors inspiring readers and writers
All schools in the project registered with ReadNZ and for this event we were thrilled to be able to introduce Melinda Szymanik and David Riley to this community. Melinda and David talked about their books, work in schools, reading for pleasure, stories and practical tips for connecting with students in reading.
The response to both speakers was really positive. As with other events, National Library offered a selection of books from the Services to School’s lending collection and participants had the opportunity to swap, share and discover new titles. For this event books were displayed in table groupings of wellbeing, sports and activities, the great outdoors, creativity, and imagination.
A teacher of a high needs group of 0 to 1 students, told us about the effect that a special National Library loan of superhero, wellbeing and animal books had on her class saying they were ‘spellbound’ and engaged by the books selected just for them.
Below are some insights from the West Auckland Te Kāhui Ako o Tiriwā Communities of Readers project.
Use of the School Culture Review tool
A few of the schools revisited the School Culture Review tool to see how they had progressed since the beginning of the project. Among the shifts they noted were an increase in teacher's knowledge of children’s literature, reading for pleasure was now included in planning, and more teachers were reading aloud on more frequently and for pleasure, rather than with work attached.
End of project staff survey
The National Library conducted a survey for staff, which was completed by 48 staff. The majority of staff believed their knowledge of children’s literature had increased, with over a third saying it had increased a lot.
Staff indicated that one of the most significant factors leading to increased student engagement with reading was access to reading resources. Other factors included; teacher role modelling and book chat, visits to the school library and reading aloud. Nearly 90% said they had read aloud books they'd selected from events to their students.
Below are some comments from the survey responding to a question about shifts participants had observed in students’ reading engagement.
- There is a greater love of reading. They are more excited about browsing boxes even. They are all tuned in during Reading time. They are learning to imagine more.
- They are more excited to read their own books. Reading to them and being excited myself has been a factor I think.
- A greater interest in different types of books because of book availability.
- Students are keen to take the books home to read. The availability of a range of books has been a significant factor in leading to this shift.
- Students show more enthusiasm and enjoy sharing ideas about the book they have read.
- Some students have been captivated by the constant supply of new books — the ones that I pick up from the staffroom — there are always new books.
- A few of the reluctant readers have started to enjoy reading.
- It was fun and enjoyable as a reader to see the love of reading be developed across the schools.
At the final event Bruce Barnes, Principal of Massey Primary and leader of the Kāhui Ako, appealed to staff to look for ways to making the learning and impact of the project sustainable. Sustainability is an important consideration for all of the Communities of Readers projects and the partner members discussed ways the Kāhui Ako could continue to support reading for pleasure in their school, using project insights and research to help prioritise and develop initiatives.
National Library facilitators will continue working with the schools and school library staff, albeit in a reduced capacity. A number of staff members from the Kāhui Ako also attended the National Library professional development courses Strengthening School wide family and community reading connections, and Literature at the heart of literacy.
All schools are also supplementing their school and classroom library collections via the National Library Services to School lending service.
A school-wide reading cultureCreating a reading culture requires commitment and collaboration between the school, whānau, and public library. Here are some ideas and a reading culture review tool to help your school build the network of support students need to become engaged readers.
School staff as readersBe a reading role model, inspire and encourage your students to become engaged readers. Read, reflect, know the literature and share your passion.
Reading aloudReading aloud to students of all ages, including teenagers, is a vital part of any good reading programme. It's enjoyable, stimulates interest, imagination and language, and exposes students to the joys of reading.
Feature image at top of page: Detail of photo from the event ‘Authors inspiring readers and writers’.