Reading researchers, Dr Alice Sullivan and Matt Brown found that:
“Reading for pleasure was more important for children's cognitive development between ages 10 and 16 than their parents' level of education. The combined effect on children's progress of reading books often, going to the library regularly and reading newspapers at 16 was four times greater than the advantage children gained from having a parent with a degree.”
Schools are encouraged to do the following:
- Book Displays in foyers, corridors and principal’s office;
- Signs on display boards with quotes about reading;
- Notices of reading events;
- Photographs of children reading, staff reading and other reading role models;
- The principal's recommended "book of the week";
- Promotion of the public library;
- Celebration of reading events such as National Library Week, National Book Week, Readathon Week etc.
In the principal's office there should be evidence of:
- A selection of favourite children's books, learner’s work about reading, books for parents about helping children become readers; and
- Photographs of principal reading during school-wide Drop All and Read Programme.
In the school staffroom there should be evidence of:
- Information from the library, and promotion, about new and interesting resources;
- Notices promoting professional development for staff on children’s' / young adult literature; and
- Notice board with information about reading events, must-reads, awards and recommended read aloud(s).
In the classrooms there should be evidence of:
- Reading aloud and storytelling every day;
- A structured daily reading hour;
- Plenty of books on display in the reading corner;
- Opportunities for learners to share their reading through book discussions and reviews; and
- Learner engagement of what they have read last, what they are reading now, what they are going to read next.
The school library is at the heart of the school's reading culture.
Where schools have centralised school libraries, the School librarian and principal can help instill a reading culture by ensuring that the:
- Library is well-resourced, well-staffed, well-used and is a vital catalyst for the reading culture of a school;
- Teachers collaborate with the librarian/s and use the library as an essential resource for their literacy programmes;
- Library staff encourage learners' development as readers, through the library's environment, resources and services;
- Library is included in visitors’ tours of the school;
- Library is used to host reading events; and
- Library is included in the teachers’ lunch time duty rosters.
Where schools don’t have a centralized school library, they can establish classroom libraries.
The classroom library/collection comprises
- a box or reading bag of theme-related resources,
- a reading mat,
- a shelf or a cupboard (may be fitted with wheels to be used as a portable library unit) of reading and information resources appropriate to the level of the learners in the class, as well as to the curriculum.
The box/reading bag/ shelf or cupboard is placed in a position where it is easily accessible to the learners, so that they can access the library resources during classroom activities or when they have completed work ahead of their peers.
Classrooms obtain their material from various sources, e.g. the DBE, the provincial Departments of Education, NGOs, donations, etc. Classroom collections housed in secure portable cupboards (portable library unit) have the advantage that they can be locked and moved from classroom to classroom as required, thereby providing learners with alternative supplies of resources as teachers exchange collections.
Promoting Reading in Schools
Here are some other creative ways of promoting reading in schools:
- Having teachers and learners promoting books at assembly regularly and enthusiastically;
- Mentioning popular books and authors;
- Discussing the importance of reading at school gatherings or events such as prize giving, parent/teacher interviews, etc.;
- Regular reading and book celebrations; not just once a year in book week, but each term hold an event or activity to promote reading;
- Encouraging guest speakers (including sports people, entertainers, parents ) to discuss the importance of reading and the role of reading in their lives;
- Inviting writers, illustrators, storytellers, librarians, and book enthusiasts to talk about books and perform to the learners;
- Displaying information on the school's website, intranet, blog, library home page about reading,
- Getting learners to participate online in appropriate forums, reading competitions, learner writing sites and book review sites
- Publishing articles in the local paper about the school's focus on reading, reading events and library developments; and
- Links between the school and public library namely class visits, block book loans.