How can we make sure that tomorrow's readers have access to books and the support to explore them today?
I find it fascinating that for example school libraries in this country are not mandatory but a library in prison is. We should have libraries in every school. Libraries in a lot of schools are disappearing, school librarians are disappearing. We can talk about literacy but if it’s not backed up by a school library where you can go and get into that reading habit, it’s just talk.
School libraries are being closed or scaled back throughout the UK. This means fewer pupils have access to books, and where they do have access it is often inadequate. Cuts to school libraries will especially affect children who have limited or no access to books at home, and will widen the gap between the best and the least 'well-educated' and 'well-read'. Children who are keen, wide readers have a far greater chance of being successful, well-rounded individuals in later life.
A school library also needs a trained librarian, in order to improve reading proficiency, grow children’s confidence and inspire a love of reading. But in too many schools librarians’ hours are being reduced or eliminated altogether.
What are we doing?
We are calling on the Government to set out a new national strategy for school libraries which recognises the vital role of high quality school libraries in supporting pupils’ literacy, research skills and reading for pleasure. We want school staff, governors, Ofsted, students and parents to recognise the importance of a thriving school library.
We promote reading for pleasure as an essential and enjoyable experience which can have many positive effects, and we are emphasising the vital role of trained library staff in this experience. To this end we are working with organisations such as CILIP, the Reading Agency, the SLA and EmpathyLab to spread the word about the power of reading for pleasure. Our Reading for Pleasure Award enables visiting authors to reward schools doing inspiring work to encourage reading for pleasure.
What can you do?
- Support your local school’s library, if it has one.
- If you do school visits, work with the librarian and see if your visit can be focused around the library. Encourage children to come into the library to meet you if possible – maybe in an informal ‘drop-in’/chat session separate from a more formal workshop or talk
- Praise librarians for the hard work they do. After a school visit, write or email to thank the librarian, and tell senior management how essential you think they are to the children’s enjoyment of reading. Consider presenting our Reading for Pleasure Award.
- Become a school’s Patron of Reading. A Patron is an author who works with a particular school over a long period of time, developing a relationship with that school and helping the school to foster a reading culture. Find out more at www.patronofreading.co.uk.
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