Whip up a storm of summer reading

14th July 2006 at 01:00
In my school we play a lot of cricket each summer. Year after year we have a fair measure of success in tournaments. When people ask me how we manage to do well so consistently, I tell them there's no big secret - we simply play lots of games.Good readers are readers who read a lot, although educationists have an unhappy knack of overcomplicating the process of acquiring a reading habit.

One of the great merits of the public libraries' Summer Reading Challenge - now in its eighth year - is its emphasis on the simple goal of enticing children to borrow and read books. The numbers participating grow each year. Last year well over half a million children took part in The Reading Voyage. With a little more promotion in schools before the holidays, that number could quickly push up towards a full million.

This year's theme, The Reading Mission, is highly promotable (especially to key stage 2) with its connection to Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider books and explicit link to the Stormbreaker film due for release on July 17 starring Alex Pettyfer (pictured). In our school a librarian comes to assembly in June or July to introduce the challenge and show some of the materials.

They return in September to issue certificates to the busiest participants.

If a librarian cannot visit your school, the Reading Agency website www.readingagency.org.uk has lots of downloadable posters and Mission Messages for your school library.

Does your school website have an e-learning section? If so, you could enrol a group of children in a course of online activities linked to the Reading Mission website, www.readingmission.org.uk. Last year's site, www.readingvoyage.org.uk, is still active with high-quality video clips of authors including Anthony Horowitz, Michael Rosen and Chris Riddell. Using an eLearning module such as moodle http:moodle.org, it's easy to direct children to particular areas of the site, and help focus their navigations.

Put links on your school site, send details to parents and make it a school mission to have more children participating than last year.

Michael Thorn is deputy head of Hawkes Farm primary school, Hailsham, East Sussex

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