Jane Jackson is Marketing Manager at BookSpace, an independent company whose products and resources are designed to develop a love of reading and writing amongst primary-aged children. Our range of creative writing products, WordSpace, stimulates and inspires children to write creatively and our innovative book display furniture is designed to create reading spaces with instant visual appeal which banish the image of a dull library forever. We also offer a free design service for schools looking to revamp their school library.
We want our children to read more, and teachers are well-placed to create a buzz of excitement about books. You don’t need a large space or big budgets to do this. In fact, it’s amazing what a well thought-out small reading space can do for children’s confidence in reading and books.
A good environment for reading is probably just as important as the book itself. Jane Jackson, marketing manager at BookSpace, shares her top tips on how to create the ultimate reading-zone.
Creating a school reading culture is high up on most headteachers’ wish lists. But presenting reading as an attractive offer isn’t always that easy. While most young people find electronic media instantly attractive so motivation is not an issue, we have to work much harder to make books appealing.
Most staff rooms will be home to a widely-diverse range of reading habits and tastes; as adult readers, we all know there’s no such thing as good or bad readers – or in fact good or bad books. We know it’s not about measuring people by their reading skills, or the number of prizewinning books they read. It’s simply about what we each, as individuals, like to read and how it makes us feel. We can have the most dismal reading experience from a book that has been praised to the roof tops – and equally we can have the best experience from something that others might consider to be ‘trashy’, ‘lightweight’ or ‘inferior’. In the end, the best book is the world is the one we, ourselves, like best – and that can change by day, by week or by year.
There are many different views on educational policy but one thing everyone agrees on is the importance of independent reading as a cornerstone of educational development.
How to make reading attractive isn’t easy in a world where children are sophisticated consumers and budgets, space and time are limited. Competition for children’s attention is fierce and if we are serious about encouraging children to read more and develop a life-long love of reading we have to look at the whole experience. Presenting books so that they appear irresistible and children just can’t help but reach out and take them is the first step.
It's well known that many school children fear the ‘blank sheet of paper’ when asked to write about a particular topic. How to start, what tone to use, who is the audience, what purpose does this writing serve. The result is trepidation about writing, particularly by reluctant writers and often by boys.
How do we help children to feel more positively about writing and how can we provide interesting and inspiring stimulus for writing? One effective way is to create an authentic ‘event’ which the whole school is involved in. Perhaps an alien has landed in the school grounds, or the World Cup has been found hidden behind a tree in the playing fields. Use a few props to make the find look authentic and involve the whole school by asking all pupils to spend the day investigating the discovery and writing about it. Asking the children to write newspaper articles is a good way of providing an instant audience for their writing and having made the discovery in school makes the piece of writing incredibly relevant.