Here are some ideas for creating and promoting a reading culture in your school.
Planning for a reading culture
Creating a strategic reading promotion plan will help you build a strong school-wide reading culture that targets all members of your school community.
Things to consider as you make your plan include:
- How will your promotion fit in with the school’s and the library’s wider literacy and reading goals?
- How can you coordinate with teachers’ unit plans?
- How much time do I have? Only commit to what you have time for. It is better, in the long run, to focus on quality and consistency rather than quantity.
- Document what you do so you can report on the effect of your promotion using evidence and learning outcomes.
- Create a planning template and share it with staff and students to ask for ideas and input.
Build a strong school-wide reading culture
Librarian’s role in promoting reading
The library is at the heart of reading promotion and developing a reading culture in your school. What's more, the librarian’s role in creating readers is one of the most exciting and satisfying parts of the job.
There are numerous ways you can promote reading in the library and throughout the school. Promoting reading gives you an opportunity to collaborate with other staff and perhaps get a team together to share the tasks.
Librarian's role in creating readers
Promote a reading culture in your library
There are lots of ways to promote reading in your library. One easy way is to create dynamic displays that connect to events either in the school or the wider reading world:
- such as outdoor adventure stories in the weeks before camp — for school events
- such as news about books or related movies, award winners and author birthdays — in the wider reading world. Check out Pinterest for creative and inspiring book display ideas.
Other ideas for promoting reading in your library are:
- Have a contest and ask for photos of students dressed as their favourite fictional character or reading in unusual places. Display snapshots of entries with their favourite books on a digital photo frame.
- Screen savers or digital photo frames with scrolling photos of readers and their recommended books, award-winning titles, or top reads from the library.
- Run a library week with quizzes, scavenger hunts, contests such as a book holding contest, and a dress as your favourite character day. Be creative and have fun.
- Start a book club to bring readers together and get them talking about favourite titles.
Encourage teachers to read and promote reading
Teachers and other school staff can support the creation of a reading culture. To help them you can:
- Encourage staff to read by promoting books to teachers as well as students. Do book-talks at staff meetings, buy books you know teachers will enjoy, and suggest titles for staff reading over the holidays.
- Suggest a read-aloud to teachers that is linked to their current topic or offer to go to classes and book-talk topic-specific books.
- Run a 'Get caught reading' raffle – every time a teacher 'catches' a student reading the student gets a ticket and goes into the draw for a weekly prize.
- Have school leaders and teachers promote books at assembly – briefly, regularly and enthusiastically.
School staff as readers
Reading aloud — the importance of reading aloud and how to read aloud.
Getting to know read-alouds
Put your reading promotion online
Bringing your promotion online is a wonderful way to reach the wider school community as well as your students. You could:
- Write a regular column in the school newsletter – showcase new releases, ask students to write reviews, and suggest family read-alouds.
- Create your own library newsletter – check out the way Antia Vandenberghe, a New Zealand school librarian, has used Smore to create monthly library newsletters online).
- Create book trailers – use online tools like Animoto or Photostory – reviews and other promotional material and post on your school library web page, blog or Facebook page.
- Share 'What should I read next' resources that students and parents can access anywhere. You can make your own lists, or try creating interactive images like the Raroa librarian did using Thinglink. Joyce Valenza’s curated list of reading suggestion engines may also be useful
- Use Pinterest to create visual booklists.
- Tweet about new books in the library, connect to a book club, join twitter book chats.
- Connect through the library Facebook page, new books, author information.
Antia Vandenberghe newsletters — examples of library newsletters using the online tool Smore
Smore — online tool for creating newsletters
Animoto — online tool for making videos
Photostory — online tool for photo presentation
Raroa school example of reading list using images
Reading suggestion engines — curated by Joyce Valenza
Helping students choose books for reading pleasure
School-wide promotions are a fantastic way to get the entire community excited about reading. Here are a few ideas to try when you want to involve all the teachers and students at your school:
Author visits are a great way to bring the school together:
- Check the New Zealand Book Council website for information about New Zealand authors and their Writers in Schools Programme.
- Virtual visits can also work. Kate Messner's website includes authors who offer free Skype sessions.
Students love a bit of friendly competition:
- see which class can read the most pages or for the most hours in a week
- have a book trailer awards show
- or adapt one of these reading games and competitions to best fit your school community.
Other school-wide promotions are:
- Shadow the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards or try setting up your own Battle of the books or Mock Newbery awards.
- Share this ReadWriteThink calendar of literary events and activities with your students and colleagues and together plan a few schoolwide events.
- Involve families by organising a community-wide read. See the Planning a community-wide read for ideas about how to do this. You could also host discussions in your library and classrooms.
- Participate in the Kids’ Lit Quiz.
- Promote your local public library and encourage students to participate in holiday reading challenges.
- Get your entire school community involved in your own summer reading programme.
New Zealand Book Council
Kate Messner's site
Ockham New Zealand Book Awards
Battle of the kids books School Library Journal’s competition for the very best books of the year for young people, judged by some of the biggest names in children’s books.
Mock Election awards — annual youth media awards, including Mock Newberry, Mock Caldecott, and Mock Printz awards.
One book, one community — American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office resources for librarians building community-wide reading programs
Kids’ lit quiz
Secondary schools reading promotion ideas
Here are some ideas for promoting reading that will be particularly appropriate in a secondary school setting.
Sustained Silent Reading (SSR)
Many secondary schools have school-wide SSR time. Be sure students have access to quality reading material during this time. Put together book boxes for classrooms full of high-interest items, which will appeal to all types of readers such as magazines and graphic novels.
Ask for student input into reading promotion. Don Valley School and Performing Arts College school in the UK involved Year 10 boys in an ‘Apprentice-style’ challenge. The students were given a day and a half to find ways of promoting reading for pleasure and then presented their ideas to staff, parents, and other students.
Work with teachers to develop the library collection
Ask each department for help in developing your collection so students have access to books that reflect all areas of the curriculum. Work with teachers to plan events that involve the library. For example, choose a text for your reading group that matches a current history topic or invite drama students to perform in the library.
Family book clubs
Family book clubs work particularly well at secondary level and students and parents may be starting to share books at home. Invite parents to attend reading groups, send out lists of recommended titles, and ask parents to come speak to students about their reading lives.
Build a school-wide reading culture
Key literary days and events
Below is a list of resources for finding key literary days and events.
- All Hallow’s read — a Halloween tradition, All Hallow's read simply requires you to give someone a scary book in the week of Halloween, or on the night itself.
- International Literacy Day — on 8 September, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and its partners promote International Literacy day to draw attention to the significance of literacy for healthy societies.
- The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival — James Kennedy founded this annual contest, which encourages children to create 90 second (or less) movies based on Newberry Award winning books.
- The Global Read Aloud
- World Book Day
- World Read Aloud Day — held on the first Wednesday of March each year.