Creating a school-wide reading culture

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Staff and students from Mahurangi College and Kingsford Primary School in Auckland share insights on reading for pleasure. The video explores the link between reading for pleasure and literacy skills.


Students: We love reading!

Alicia: I love reading, it's been the best thing in my life.

Norman and Marlon: When we are at home we like to read to each other.

David Macleod: Every week at our assemblies we have prefects who give book reviews, and occasionally I do a book review myself. Often books I've borrowed out of the school library.

I give a little summary of the books, alot of them are quite humorous and good fun. So that also just adds to the culture of reading in the school.

Caoimhe: Mr Macleod often talks about books that he's read or other teachers have read and recommends them.

Jeanette Cornege: We usually have a flood of people coming in to reserve the book he's just promoted.

David Macleod: Three days a week we have 15 minute slots for reading and that's a major within the school. And the teachers model the reading in the classes with the students.

And it's purely reading for pleasure, there's no prescribed reading, there's no tests on the reading. It's just for the sheer pleasure of reading.

And because we believe reading is so important, it does improve the vocabulary of the students, and the understanding and it has tremendous spinoff benefits in every other area of their learning.

Fehm Hussain and students: And pull, and pull

Fehm Hussain: I encourage my students to read by being passionate about reading myself.

So when I go to the library every Saturday with my son I come back to school on Monday and share my experience with my children and say to them, Oh what did you do this weekend? I went to the library with my son and we chose these books and while he was choosing his books I chose my books and tell them a bit about the book that I chose and I can't wait to get home and read it.

And it sort of gets them thinking, Oh she's reading at home, it's an activity to do on the weekend, it's free.

What does enormous mean?

Students: Big!

Fehm Hussain: Can you show me with your hands? Enormous, can you get up and show me with your legs too?

Fehm Hussain and students: ENORMOUS

Fehm Hussain: I've got my children for forty weeks in a year and then they move on. In those forty weeks I cannot teach them absolutely everything they need to know.

But if I can teach them to love reading, they've got access to information for the rest of their lives. So it's really important for me as a teacher to make sure that I solidly embed that passion and that love for reading. Not just to gain information, but for pleasure.

And the more children read, the broader their minds will go.

Caoimhe: I love working in the library because I get to recommend books to other students
there's stuff for everybody.

Jeanette Cornege: There's nothing like their peers recommending a book, it can sell it way more than I could ever sell it.

David Macleod: Our library staff are seen as a really important part of the whole staff in the school.

And I think that's partly because of the role they've created for themselves as learning leaders within the school, particularly around collaborative learning and inquiry learning.

Verity Rowsell-Starkey: We have a system we call being 'Matched with a Book' and so the students come over and Jeannette will say to them, What are you interested in?

Jeanette Cornege: You can't promote books unless you're out on the shop floor and just looking at what they're getting and chatting to them.

Verity Rowsell-Starkey: There are students who are just non-readers, not interested, it's made a big change for them.

Jeanette Cornege: It's just being amongst the students.

Verity Rowsell-Starkey: Summer reading's really important to us.

Students who take out most books, read most books in the holidays. So if they only take one or two they only read one or two.

David Macleod: Summer reading is really strongly promoted. Not just by the librarians but through all of our junior staff and our English teachers.

They're all strongly encouraging students to take books out of the library. In the past we used to close the library off about November and you couldn't get any more books out, but now we're actually encouraging students to take books out for the Xmas holidays.

Verity Rowsell-Starkey: We do it every holidays, and we call it book break and advertise it in the week or two beforehand.

David Macleod: Every holidays we're reminded to make sure we take six books home and get them read over the holidays.

Lita Garcia: We've got book week coming up and it's so big that we try and incorporate all the different ideas from the kids and the teachers.

Fehm Hussain: We try and encourage reading as a family activity. So not just in isolation but also sharing.

Alicia: I like to read to my sister and it's really fun.

Jodie: When I read to them, my little nephew he always claps his hands and he always smiles at me.

Maria Piggin: As a staff, we try and form a relationship with the parents then you're all working towards the same goal to raise the literacy levels of the children and for them to get enjoyment out of literacy, to visit the local library and to make that part of their lives.

Fehm Hussain: The literacy team have a home-school partnership evening. We decided to hold some of the sessions at our closest library, Mangere East Library and then invite the parents.

And we had an overwhelming amount of parents that attended and of those parents, the majority did not belong to the library so on that night the librarian was there and issued cards and got them signed up right then and immediately and the children could take home books that very night.

So we knew that at least for that one night there were books in those homes and they were being read and the children came back to school the next day and were so excited about it so we keep saying to them, go back to the library, change your books, swap your books.

It's like getting new things all the time and you don't even have to pay any money for it.

We believe that reading and writing as well as the child's entire curriculum is a partnership between home, school and any other care givers that they have outside of school and making sure that what we do at school flows at home and vice a versa.

So the child gets a holistic approach to their learning.

Kurt: I like alot of books, for example Dr Suess books.

Onevasa: When I'm at home I like to read Harry potter books and Roald Dahl books.

Benjamin: If I see an interesting book that catches my eye then I have a look at it, but if I like them I keep on reading them and finding the next one in the series.

Marlon: My favourite book is the Captain Underpants and Goosebumps.

Jaanvi: The Boring Book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Norman: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl and Mr Whistler.

Awanshika: I think Cat and the Hat is cool.