A school reading community

Author David Riley presenting about reading to school staff.

Author David Riley inspires school staff from Kāhui Ako o Tiriwa at Te Manawa Library. Image credit: All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Effective school reading communities inspire students to read for pleasure. Watch a video where school staff and students discuss how they support and contribute to a reading community. Use our frameworks to help build your own community.

A network of partners to create readers

Effective school reading communities weave together a network of partners within the school and with whānau, libraries, and other organisations. This reading partnership ensures students have:

  • access to reading resources
  • opportunities to read books of their choice
  • reading experiences
  • reading role models.

Creating a school reading community

What does it mean to create a school reading community? Watch this video where school leaders, librarians, teachers, and students discuss the various ways they support and contribute to a reading community.

Embedded content: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TiYDCE5xtY

Video transcript

Reading Community Framework

The Reading Community Framework is intended for school leaders, teachers, and library staff. It recognises that reading can’t be left to individuals. It requires staff to collaborate and adopt a whole-school approach. This means embedding reading in classrooms, at home, and in other aspects of school life, supported by the school library and the leadership team.

The framework draws on research and our years of experience working with school staff to support the development of school reading cultures and school libraries.

It highlights 7 key, interconnecting factors that school communities need to create engaged readers:

  • leadership and expectation
  • reading environment
  • knowledge and practice
  • access
  • reading experiences
  • home-school partnerships
  • school library and community connections.

View/print posters of the framework

Reading Community Framework — poster (pdf, 52KB)

Reading Community Framework — detailed poster (pdf, 470KB)

Leadership and expectation

School leaders:

  • advocate for and role-model reading for pleasure
  • include reading-for-pleasure strategies in school policy and planning
  • are explicit about expectations that all young people are readers
  • support staff development
  • understand and promote the role of libraries in creating effective reading cultures.

Reading environment

Reading for pleasure is visible — in physical and online spaces. Students have:

  • access to comfortable places to read and chat about books and reading
  • a voice and opportunities to contribute to a reading culture and reading areas.

Library spaces and services are welcoming and inclusive reading environments.

Knowledge and practice

School staff:

  • read and model reading for pleasure and know:
    • children’s and young adult (YA) literature
    • students’ interests
    • strategies to motivate and engage readers
  • read aloud regularly to students of all ages
  • collaborate to share effective knowledge and practice.


Students have access to:

  • diverse, appealing reading resources — digital and print formats via school, classroom, public, National Library
  • time for self-selected, independent reading
  • library staff and/or teachers with expertise to help students choose/locate books they want to read.

Reading experiences

  • Reading is promoted and celebrated across the school.
  • Students have access to inspirational events and opportunities, for example, author visits, challenges, book weeks, book clubs.

Home-school partnerships

Schools engage with parents and whānau to promote and support reading for pleasure at home.

School library and community connections

Schools collaborate with public libraries, the National Library, and other organisations to ensure students have access to books and opportunities to support their development as engaged readers.

Useful for other communities too

Although developed for school staff, much of the Reading Community Framework’s content also applies to other types of communities.

For example, South Dunedin is one of the communities supported by the Communities of Readers project. A partnership between several organisations, its success lies in the same factors outlined in the framework. The South Dunedin project:

  • has the support of leadership from the partner organisations who have committed staff time and resource
  • has developed strong connections between partners
  • provides books into the community
  • provides reading experiences, such as school visits from authors
  • has organised a series of hui for educational providers, parents, and whānau in the community that shared information about reading for pleasure and wellbeing.

Read more about Pūtoi Rito Communities of Readers initiative

Teachers Creating Readers Framework

Teachers, like school librarians and whānau, are vital reading role models. Research highlights several ways they can encourage students to read for pleasure. These ways range from reading and knowing children’s and YA books to developing a reading-for-pleasure pedagogy.

The Teachers Creating Readers Framework stems from the knowledge and practice ‘petal’ of the Reading Community Framework. It highlights 3 key, interconnected ways that teachers can create readers:

  • be a reader themselves (teachers as readers)
  • create a classroom reading community
  • create a school-wide reading culture.

The expectation that results is that all students will be readers.

View/print posters of the framework

Teachers Creating Readers Framework — poster (pdf, 51KB) — use this poster as a discussion prompt in your school, kura, or kahui ako to explore and share examples of best practice.

Teachers Creating Readers Framework — detailed poster (pdf, 61KB)

Teachers as readers

  • Read and model independent reading — understand why reading role models matter, are readers and are seen to read independently, with pleasure, from choice.
  • Know children’s and young adult (YA) literature — know and can recommend children’s and YA literature. Have strategies to find out about and share new books.
  • Know themselves as readers — reflect on their own experiences of reading and as a reader, and share their reading lives to support students develop their reading identities.

Create a classroom reading community

  • Know their students' reading enthusiasms and needs — discover students' reading preferences and practices in and out of school to enable recommendations and to help students choose books to read for pleasure.
  • Provide access to a diverse range of children’s and YA literature — ensure students have regular and frequent access to an up-to-date diverse and appealing range of print and/or digital books to read for pleasure at school and home.
  • Read aloud — from primary through to senior secondary, read aloud for pleasure frequently and regularly from a diverse range of children’s and YA literature. At secondary level, read from across the curriculum, and for pleasure at all year levels.
  • Know and use strategies to engage students with reading — know how to:
    • share and chat about books with students
    • develop strategies and approaches to encourage students to share about books with each other.
  • Provide students with frequent and regular opportunities to talk about books, stories, and reading.
  • Provide time for independent, free-choice reading — prioritise regular time for independent reading (SSR, DEAR etc) and for students to browse and choose from a range of reading material, settle into the experience, and build stamina over time. Role-model reading, and share and chat about their reading in all classes.

Create a school-wide reading culture

  • Advocate for a whole-school reading culture — know the research about why reading for pleasure is important and how it makes a difference. Advocate across the school community for reading for pleasure — with school leadership, staff in their school and across schools, and family/whānau.
  • Work with staff and family/whānau to support reading for pleasure — collaborate with one another, library staff, and family/whānau to share ideas, develop measurable initiatives. Ensure access to reading resources, and strengthen support for students reading for pleasure at school and at home.
  • Promote and discuss reading with staff and students — promote reading for pleasure in a variety of ways to ensure it is visible and modelled, celebrated, supported, and encouraged. For example, through displays, events, author visits, book clubs for students and staff, and chats from the classroom to the staffroom.

Use with our School Reading Culture Review tool

Use our School Reading Culture Review tools with the framework to explore reading in your school. This will help identify strengths and gaps in resourcing and capability.

A school-wide reading culture — has more, including the School Reading Culture Review tools.