Reading culture intro image collage

Creating a School-wide Reading Culture

Keywords: 

  • Literacy
  • Reading culture
  • Collection development
  • Reading role models
  • Library management

Encouraging students to read is easier and more likely to be successful when reading and literacy are firmly embedded into all aspects of school life. The benefits of reading for pleasure are well supported by a large body of research, making a strong reading culture highly desirable.

Creating, developing, and implementing the appropriate reading behaviour, values, and practices right across the school are all areas in which your library plays a crucial role, and one which Accessit Library can help you to excel at.

 

The Role of School Leaders

A well-funded school library is a clear sign that the library and its role in promoting reading and developing literacy is recognised and valued by school leadership. An adequate budget for library resources and having well-maintained facilities are also essential for successfully creating and developing a reading culture within the school community.

Accessit Library’s extensive reporting options make it easy to show school management how library funding is being allocated and how those resources are engaging students and supporting their learning. Providing this kind of information can be incredibly helpful when requesting future funding for the library, will be appreciated by management, and emphasises the professional standing of the librarian within the school. Principals and school leaders who are well informed are more likely to be actively involved in the library, which in turn shows that they value the library, its activities and programmes, and the importance of reading.

 

A woman reaching for a book

Collection Development

To encourage students and teachers to read, library collections need to reflect the wide and diverse interests of all parts of the school community. To do this successfully, it’s important for librarians to know their borrowers well. Talking to students and staff about books, reading, and their interests is important. If students are buzzing about a new series, movie, or trend, these can be used to guide them into related reading material. It’s also important for librarians to build relationships and firmly establish their role as an important and trusted source of book recommendations.

Students and teachers can be encouraged to suggest books for purchase, so that as many of these as possible can be added to the library, alongside other new and popular titles for readers to discover. As a librarian, it’s important to follow book review sites, sign up for publishers’ newsletters, take note of award winners, talk to other school librarians, and of course, to read as much as possible.

 

A librarian with her students

Purchasing new resources is of course only half of the collection development story. Regularly weeding out the old, out of date, and under-used books is also important to make the library shelves more appealing and easier to browse. Accessit Library’s Frequency and Last Issues report is one of several ways to quickly identify potential candidates for weeding and keep the library shelves fresh and attractive.

 

Showcasing Books and Reading

Much has been written about the value of adults as reading role models for children and young people. This should not be the sole province of the librarian – everyone at school can get involved. For many years, some schools have run ‘drop everything and read’ programmes where the whole school reads at the same designated time. This is an excellent way to show the value that is placed on reading within a school.

Reading role models can also be found outside the school gates. Those in the wider school community are equally important as examples of adults who read, so having their support is beneficial. Some school libraries allow parent borrowing as a way of encouraging reading at home or create an Accessit Library Web App Topic Board specifically for their parents.

Regular notices and book promotion in school newsletters and social media pages also help to keep the wider community up to date with reading events and activities.

Readers should also be encouraged to recommend books directly to their peers, for example in conversations, book groups, reviews and library displays to make books and reading visible in all areas of the school.  While it’s important for readers to have an element of choice when reading for pleasure, advice and suggestions are excellent for introducing students to new books, authors, and genres.

The Accessit Library Web App also makes it easy for library staff to promote books and other new or topical resources, share links to related content such as book or movie trailers and podcasts, and create and share Quick Lists of recommended titles. Having a carousel of books that have recently been reviewed in the Web App by students and staff is a great way for the entire school community to see that the school has a strong reading culture. Links to individual titles, Quick Lists, Web App Topic Boards, and even the entire Web App can be shared in school newsletters, emails, and online learning spaces to involve students, teachers, and families in the school’s reading culture.

Reading needs to be visible and there are many creative ways to do this. Adding photos and reviews from staff or student leaders to the Accessit Library Web App, making posters to display around the school, using shelf talkers and bookmarks to share short reviews, and creating displays of student and staff recommendations are just a few suggestions.

 

An Enticing Reading Environment

Having a welcoming area dedicated to reading is also important, whether it’s in the corner of a busy library, in a classroom, a quiet outdoor space or elsewhere around the school. It should be calm and quiet, as well as having comfortable seating to encourage sitting and reading. Student input on the design and layout ensures the space meets their needs and will be well used. Having lots of good books in and around this area will also entice readers to pick up a book and sit and read for a while. 

 

A large group of students in a library

Effective libraries and reading spaces are firmly focused on their readers. Consider how a library might look to new visitors – is it appealing and attractive, drawing them in? Reader-centred libraries utilise a bookshop approach, with small but well stocked displays, front facing covers, and shelving layouts that encourage browsing, all things that can easily be achieved in a school library. 

As well as making the library itself an appealing physical space, the Accessit Library Web App ensures that there is also an engaging and interactive online presence for the library. With the Web App readers can browse and search the library online to locate titles, share their thoughts on books they’ve read by writing reviews, and explore the extra videos, links, podcasts, interactive games, and websites, regardless of where they are or what kind of device they’re using. Library staff can quickly and easily add content to their Web App Topic Boards to reflect the particular interests and needs of their school’s students, teachers and families, thereby creating a customised interface that is relevant, welcoming and engaging. 

 

Events and Activities to Promote Books and Reading

There are numerous book-related events and activities that are fun and can be used to promote books and the importance of reading.

Here are just a few suggestions:

  • A Library Day or Book Week full of activities
  • Summer reading programmes
  • Dedicated times for reading (e.g. drop everything and read, sustained silent reading)
  • Book displays and bookshop-style book promotion, in both the library and elsewhere around the school
  • Book groups and shared reads
  • Themed displays and activities, such as Blind date a Book for Valentine’s Day, scary stories for Halloween, or book spine poetry for National Poetry Day
  • Student reviews and recommendations
  • Book talks and read-alouds to promote new or interesting books to classes
  • Author visits and online interviews
  • Escape rooms, treasure hunts, reading challenges, quizzes, dress up days and competitions
Young boy reading in a school library

Developing a strong reading culture is an ongoing process that involves the whole school community.  The school library is pivotal in this process and the librarian has a key role to play in creating and developing a strong reading culture that will successfully support students to become lifelong readers and learners.

 

References: 

Layne, S.L. (2012). Igniting a passion for reading : successful strategies for building lifetime readers. New York: Scholastic Inc. 

Merga, M.K. and Mason, S. (2019). Building a school reading culture: Teacher librarians’ perceptions of enabling and constraining factors. Australian Journal of Education, 63(2), pp.173–189. doi:10.1177/0004944119844544. 

Rachel Van Riel, Fowler, O. and Downes, A. (2008). The reader-friendly library service. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Society Of Chief Librarians. 

Ripp, P. (2018). Passionate readers : the art of reaching and engaging every child. New York: Routledge. 

Ask a question about Accessit Library

    SLA Conference 2022 Recap – Jen Winn

    SLA Conference 2022 Recap – Jen Winn

    Creating a School-wide Reading Culture

    Creating a School-wide Reading Culture

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Thomas Hardye School – Jenny Stevens

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Thomas Hardye School – Jenny Stevens

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Our Lady of Good Help (OLGH) – Sarah Olushonde

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Our Lady of Good Help (OLGH) – Sarah Olushonde

    Let’s Talk Libraries: St Anthony’s High School – Jill Adler

    Let’s Talk Libraries: St Anthony’s High School – Jill Adler

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Somerhill – Susan Smith

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Somerhill – Susan Smith

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Beacon Academy – Natasha Allen

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Beacon Academy – Natasha Allen

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Southland Girls’ High School

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Southland Girls’ High School

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Littlehampton Primary – Barb O’Connor

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Littlehampton Primary – Barb O’Connor

    Let’s Talk Libraries: The Hill School (US) – Nancy Body, Catherine Clowes

    Let’s Talk Libraries: The Hill School (US) – Nancy Body, Catherine Clowes

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Our Lady of Lourdes – Danielle Leathart

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Our Lady of Lourdes – Danielle Leathart

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Richmond & Prahran High School – Karys McEwen

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Richmond & Prahran High School – Karys McEwen

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Croxley Danes School – Victoria Rovira

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Croxley Danes School – Victoria Rovira

    Librarians of Accessit – Alex McGowan – Functional Support

    Librarians of Accessit – Alex McGowan – Functional Support

    Lovett School – Storybook Pumpkin Contest

    Lovett School – Storybook Pumpkin Contest

    Web App of the Week: World Book Day (UK) – Free download

    Web App of the Week: World Book Day (UK) – Free download

    Web App of the Week: Waitangi Day – Free download

    Web App of the Week: Waitangi Day – Free download

    Supporting Reluctant Readers

    Supporting Reluctant Readers

    Let’s Talk Libraries: The Lovett School – Robyn Martin

    Let’s Talk Libraries: The Lovett School – Robyn Martin

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Lloyd Street Primary School (VIC)

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Lloyd Street Primary School (VIC)

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Seatoun School – Wendy Bamber

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Seatoun School – Wendy Bamber

    Axe-cessit Halloween Showcase – Competition Recap

    Axe-cessit Halloween Showcase – Competition Recap

    Raising the profile of your school library

    Raising the profile of your school library

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Lloyd Street Primary School (VIC)

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Christian College Geelong (VIC) – Gerradine Barry

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Lloyd Street Primary School (VIC)

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Paula Na Nagara – St Mark’s School 

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Lloyd Street Primary School (VIC)

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Diocese of Toowoomba (QLD) – Liz Newman

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Peace Lutheran College (QLD) – Tanya Mills

    Let’s Talk Libraries: Peace Lutheran College (QLD) – Tanya Mills

    Web App of the Week: Halloween – Free download

    Web App of the Week: Halloween – Free download

    Librarians of Accessit – Carole Gardiner – Sales Representative

    Librarians of Accessit – Carole Gardiner – Sales Representative

    The Axe-cessit Halloween Showcase – Free resource download

    The Axe-cessit Halloween Showcase – Free resource download

    Accessit Library Talks – Episode 1 – Kevin Arscott of Coleg Gwent

    Accessit Library Talks – Episode 1 – Kevin Arscott of Coleg Gwent

    Web App of the Week: Sydenham School

    Web App of the Week: Sydenham School

    Librarians of Accessit – Sarah Pavey

    Librarians of Accessit – Sarah Pavey

    An introduction to using Social Media in your library

    An introduction to using Social Media in your library

    Web App of the Week: Denefield School

    Web App of the Week: Denefield School

    Getting students involved in your school library

    Getting students involved in your school library

    Librarians of Accessit – Jen – Product Representative

    Librarians of Accessit – Jen – Product Representative

    Accessit Team Talk – Blair – Marketing

    Accessit Team Talk – Blair – Marketing

    Accessit Team Talk – Shane – Accessit Library Support

    Accessit Team Talk – Shane – Accessit Library Support

    Web App of the Week: Environment Day & World Oceans Day – Free Download

    Web App of the Week: Environment Day & World Oceans Day – Free Download

    Accessit Team Talk – David – Migrations

    Accessit Team Talk – David – Migrations

    Web App of the Week – Ursuline Academy of Dallas

    Web App of the Week – Ursuline Academy of Dallas

    Web App of the Week – Woodland Middle School Academy

    Web App of the Week – Woodland Middle School Academy

    Web App of the Week – Anzac Day – Free download

    Web App of the Week – Anzac Day – Free download

    Web App of the Week – Sarah Bonnell School

    Web App of the Week – Sarah Bonnell School

    Accessit Team Talk – Christine – Accessit Library Support

    Accessit Team Talk – Christine – Accessit Library Support

    Librarian Talk – Claire Bavister – Woodland Middle School Academy 

    Librarian Talk – Claire Bavister – Woodland Middle School Academy 

    Librarian Talk – Mary McGavin – Fulham Prep School

    Librarian Talk – Mary McGavin – Fulham Prep School

    Web App of the Week: Happy Holidays – Free download

    Web App of the Week: Happy Holidays – Free download

    Librarian Talk – Poonampal Kaur – Sarah Bonnell School

    Librarian Talk – Poonampal Kaur – Sarah Bonnell School

    How to promote your school library catalogue

    How to promote your school library catalogue

    Librarian Talk – Jason Saikaly – Barker College

    Librarian Talk – Jason Saikaly – Barker College

    How to approach collection development in school libraries

    How to approach collection development in school libraries

    Web App of the Week – Thornbury High School

    Web App of the Week – Thornbury High School

    Lynn Swannell – Mount Eliza Secondary College, Victoria, Australia

    Lynn Swannell – Mount Eliza Secondary College, Victoria, Australia

    Librarian Talk – Wendy Wright – Avonside Girls’ High & Shirley Boys’ High

    Librarian Talk – Wendy Wright – Avonside Girls’ High & Shirley Boys’ High

    15 downloadable resources every school librarian needs

    15 downloadable resources every school librarian needs

    Web App of the Week – Ashburton College

    Web App of the Week – Ashburton College

    Librarian Talk – Leisa Westerhof – Norwood Morialta High School

    Librarian Talk – Leisa Westerhof – Norwood Morialta High School

    Web App of the Week – Barker College

    Web App of the Week – Barker College

    Librarian Talk – Delia Achten – Ashburton College

    Librarian Talk – Delia Achten – Ashburton College

    Librarian Talk – Frances Currie – Prendergast Vale School

    Librarian Talk – Frances Currie – Prendergast Vale School

    Web App of the Week – Durrington High School

    Web App of the Week – Durrington High School

    Web App of the Week – Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’ School

    Web App of the Week – Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’ School

    Librarian Talk – Melissa Ashby – Wanaka Primary School

    Librarian Talk – Melissa Ashby – Wanaka Primary School

    Web App of the Week: Matariki – Free Download

    Web App of the Week: Matariki – Free Download

    Librarian Talk – Sasha Roth – Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’ School

    Librarian Talk – Sasha Roth – Bishop’s Hatfield Girls’ School

    Web App of the Week – Wanaka Primary School

    Web App of the Week – Wanaka Primary School

    Librarian Talk – Jill Marriott – Corinna School

    Librarian Talk – Jill Marriott – Corinna School

    Web App of the Week – Great Baddow High School

    Web App of the Week – Great Baddow High School

    Web App of the Week – Broadland High Ormiston Academy

    Web App of the Week – Broadland High Ormiston Academy

    Librarian Talk – Gemma Sosnowsky – Queen Elizabeth School

    Librarian Talk – Gemma Sosnowsky – Queen Elizabeth School

    Librarian Talk – Donna Harris – Great Baddow High School

    Librarian Talk – Donna Harris – Great Baddow High School

    Web App of the Week – Abington Friends School

    Web App of the Week – Abington Friends School

    Librarian Talk – Kay Morfett – Rolleston School

    Librarian Talk – Kay Morfett – Rolleston School

    Web App of the Week – Burgundy Farm Country Day School

    Web App of the Week – Burgundy Farm Country Day School

    Librarian Talk – Gabrielle Wales – Broadland High Ormiston Academy

    Librarian Talk – Gabrielle Wales – Broadland High Ormiston Academy

    Web App of the Week – Rolleston School

    Web App of the Week – Rolleston School

    Librarian Talk – Sally Baker – High School Librarian

    Librarian Talk – Sally Baker – High School Librarian

    Web App of the Week: Harmony ISD

    Web App of the Week: Harmony ISD

    Librarian Talk – Barbara Krainik – Burgundy Farm Country Day School

    Librarian Talk – Barbara Krainik – Burgundy Farm Country Day School

    Librarian Talk – Jill Adler – St. Anthony’s High School

    Librarian Talk – Jill Adler – St. Anthony’s High School

    Web App of the Week: The Jedi Academy

    Web App of the Week: The Jedi Academy

    Web App of the Week: St Anthony’s High School

    Web App of the Week: St Anthony’s High School

    Librarian Talk – Lori Davis – District Librarian

    Librarian Talk – Lori Davis – District Librarian

    Librarian Talk — Toni Vahlsing — Abington Friends School 

    Librarian Talk — Toni Vahlsing — Abington Friends School 

    We’re Fully Operational and Have Remote Learning Covered

    We’re Fully Operational and Have Remote Learning Covered

    Diversity and Inclusion – Accessit Book Club

    Diversity and Inclusion – Accessit Book Club

    Supporting mental health in the library: Mallinson Library, Wellington College, Berkshire

    Supporting mental health in the library: Mallinson Library, Wellington College, Berkshire

    Loving books this Valentine’s Day!

    Loving books this Valentine’s Day!

    Information and Digital Literacy – Richer Through Collaboration

    Information and Digital Literacy – Richer Through Collaboration

    The library – a safe space for everyone

    The library – a safe space for everyone

    On the Road Again – NZ Roadshow 2019

    On the Road Again – NZ Roadshow 2019

    Genrefying your library: Unley High School

    Genrefying your library: Unley High School

    Building a Strong Reading Culture: St Rita’s College Library

    Building a Strong Reading Culture: St Rita’s College Library

    Australia Roadshow 2019 – a great success!

    Australia Roadshow 2019 – a great success!

    Creating an amazing online library presence

    Creating an amazing online library presence

    Deepening literacy engagement

    Deepening literacy engagement

    Share This