Creating a reading culture — Matarau School

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Find out how Matarau School created a reading culture where reading for pleasure is supported, encouraged and role-modeled.


Rachel Robertson: We've had this whole-school approach in building this culture so we've had everybody involved, our teacher in charge of the library, our librarian, all of the teaching staff, the principal, and the children obviously.

So we've all got on board and right from the very beginning... making that plan, a five-point plan of how we're going to go about this.

Everybody was involved in building that culture and so we got along side with Jeannie (adviser) and the National Library and came up with a plan of what we could do.

We identified in our review process that we needed to integrate the library into the school much more making sure that we have good quality fiction in our school from the National Library, and also teaching the children how to talk about books having a buzz about books, part of it was teaching them how to use the library, just generally creating this school-wide buzz that this is really important to our school and this is the direction we want to take.

One of the ways that we've worked with families is to increase reading mileage it's something that we felt that our children needed and that our families would benefit from.. so we have just had an Olympic reading mileage programme.

Student 1: It was inspired by the Olympics and we had to try and read enough hours to get ourselves to London to the Olympics.

For a Bronze we read three and a half hours, which got us to Melbourne

Student 2: Silver got us to Hong Kong

Student 1: Which was 13 hours and 25 hours was Gold and that got us to London.

Sue Abbot: Basically the children had to read 15 minutes every night, they had to share books and a number of other bits and pieces to achieve different medal levels.

Student 2: All the juniors thought; Oh we'll get prizes and medals at the end,

Student 1: So they really got into it

Student 2: And everyone just read.

Student 1: Some of the boys in our class, they don't usually read and they got like golds and double golds.

Sue Abbot: Those children who achieved the highest medals had made the greatest gains in our recent reading testing.

I have a year one and two class, so those children had gone up three-four and even five levels
and those that didn't receive a medal at all hadn't made quite the same gains.

Rachel Robertson: We've had some excellent feedback from the parents that it's really motivated the children to to do the mileage and we've just had our medal ceremony yesterday and it was absolutely fantastic they all got these beautiful medals at whatever level
they achieved.

One of our aims was for our teachers to be reading role models, getting teachers reading to children more has been a really successful part of this year and really just modeling the buzz about books ourselves, that this is my favourite book and how we feel about books and that sort of thing so we've really enjoyed that.

We got the teachers to take on their own challenge and their own goal for a holiday reading programme, so we had a bookshelf full of wonderful books in the staff room, children's books
uh... and we took them home, read them critiqued them, shared them and really put ourselves in the same role as what the children were in and that was really successful.

Scotty Delamare: I've read a more diverse range of genres this year, I've loved reading, I'm reading 'Wonder' at the moment, I've read 'Hunger Games' this year, it's just hooked the kids.

It's been great having highlighted to us the need to read and read more

I suppose in a busy curriculum it's easy, especially at year 7 and 8 to not read as much as we should and to not have that same love of reading as I know we should have.

Sue Abbot: There was a really good feeling around it, they were so keen to buzz about books, we had children coming in every morning

I've got five books for book sharing today.

Scotty Delamare: It's about our kids, it's actually about engaging our kids and it's about making our kids just want to read more too.