This week I have been all over the country:Manchester, Oxford, London and Essex. It was a real pleasure to revisit Lowercroft Primary School in Bury, where Viv Barlow and Dianne Ellithorn are doing sterling work to inspire young readers in their school. Just look at these brilliant artefacts made by the year 6 children as part of a homework project.
It's always uplifting to work with teachers who are passionate about books and reading. Sometimes the book collections in school match that enthusiasm. Sometimes, it is obvious that spending on books hasn't been a priority in recent years and there is little evidence of new authors and illustrators. Sometimes new books are limited to the most obvious choices and the range doesn't reflect the breadth and depth of books currently available. We are currently in demand helping schools reinvigorate their library collections. That's all very exciting. However, it is important that once this work is done, a plan is put in place to regularly update, refresh and maintain the collection or it will quickly stagnate and deteriorate.
Each month we put together a small collection of recently published books to help you regularly update your class and school collections. You can either purchase them direct from the website or contact us if you would like to make an arrangement to receive a regular monthly parcel. We offer four packs 3 - 5 years, 5 - 7 years, 7 - 9 years and 9 - 11 years.
So what can you do when your new books arrive? It's an ideal opportunity to do some exciting book introductions and create a real buzz around the new titles. Here are some of our top tips:
1. Give the Gift of Reading: Before sharing the books with the children wrap them up in brightly coloured paper and attach a gift tag with a teaser about the book. Then hold a book assembly where children are invited to open the parcels. Have them read the tag and predict what sort of book might be inside. There's something special about the symbolism of giving the gift of reading, which makes this a favourite Just Imagine approach.
2. Augmented Reality Display: Photocopy the book jackets and make a display of the books. Ask for volunteers who would like to be the first to take the books to read (or perhaps this could be a reward). When the books have been read, video the children reading their book reviews which can be used to create an augmented reality Book Review display using the Aurasma Ap. Thank you to Dianne Ellithorn for this picture... ( but you'll need to download the ap to see the real potential of this one).
3. Profile the Authors - rather than starting book introductions, profile the featured authors over the week, or month. Many authors have their own websites, YouTube clips etc. Just imagine how excited the children will be to read 'Oliver and the Seawigs' or 'Cakes in Space' when they have been introduced to this exciting duo! (Sarah McIntyre and Philip Reeve)
4. Book of the Week: introduce one book each week. Have a special Holywood glitzy spot in your library and give the book the extra special treatment.
5 What's In It? The creative people Hot Key Books came up with an innovative idea to help young readers instantly grasp what they might expect to find in a book. Find four words to describe each of the books you are introducing and use them to create a display to pique the children's interest
6. Go to page... Publishers are very good at finding ways to interest children in their books. The wonderful folk at Chicken House put a suggested page number for readers to try on the back of each book jacket. Try this technique yourself: read an exciting excerpt to the class (not necessarily the beginning of the book) and then display the book in a prominent position... chances are it will be snapped up quickly by someone eager to read the rest of the story.
7. Imagine yourself in the story: Provide a general premise for the story and invite the children to imagine what they would do if they found themselves in a similar situation. For instance, for The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe you might say.... 'Imagine if you found an old wardrobe in an attic and climbed into it and then discovered that the wardrobe seemed to go on forever until you found yourself in a snowy forest by an old lamp-post.... what would you do?' Invite the children to read the story to discover what happens next.
8. Picture the story: show the children some photographs or illustrations that provide historical or geographical context for a story. Briefly discuss and then introduce the story.
There are many ways to share your enthusiasm. One thing you can be sure of - it's catching. So help your pupils catch the reading habit and have fun doing it.