Resolution to read

18th January 2008 at 00:00
You can easily create a reading culture in your school. Posters, book recommendations and monthly themes are a good place to start, says Sarah Osborne.

The 2008 National Year of Reading (NYR) is a concerted push to get the UK reading for pleasure. It can be the catalyst for a reading culture in schools, but only if there is a long-term vision and the senior management team buys into it. Planning focus groups must involve them if strategies are to work.

Firstly, make reading visible. Displays in unexpected places, such as the playground, dining hall or PE changing rooms, are effective.

At West Thornton Primary in Croydon, there are posters everywhere featuring information about what all staff are reading.

"The importance of making 'reading for enjoyment' visible has been one of the tenets in developing our reading culture," says Di Pumphrey, deputy head. The simplest things have the most impact. For instance, even the toilets at West Thornton have popular book characters painted on the doors. "We have lit a spark among the children," adds Di, "and are working to ensure that it keeps burning."

With books all around them, peer recommendations add to the buzz around reading. Pupils can create and use screensavers based on their favourite reads, or make a film about what the pupils are reading and run it in the foyer.

Schools can use the NYR's monthly themes that link into the reading calendar and national events. For example, read about the Olympic torch relay route that starts in Greece at the end of March and passes through hundreds of cities and towns before Beijing. See http:torchrelay.beijing2008.cnen.

Boys may need something more. The National Literacy Trust's Reading Champions scheme, a free government-funded initiative, draws upon the influence of male celebrities, fathers and men in the community, and involves boys promoting reading.

Building on work with dads and partnerships with pupils' families is an effective way to encourage reading. Some parents can take on the role of family reading ambassadors. Others can read with pupils in a buddying scheme.

Public libraries will be organising reading activities, so establish partnerships. Invite your local librarian to talk to parents or set up a "design an alternative book jacket" competition. These activities will ensure a whole-school reading culture is embedded.

Sarah Osborne is the Reading Connects and Reading Champions project manager at the National Literacy Trust.


- Get pupils to photograph themselves reading in exotic or bizarre locations during the holidays, and display them in school.

- Lend pupils book-filled "babysitting boxes" to encourage reading with younger siblings.

- Set computer homepages to author websites.

- Encourage pupils to design book-related screensavers.

- Name classrooms after children's authors or poets, as the basis for pupils' research, displays or plays.

- Display photographs of male staff and boys with quotes about what they read and why.

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