Teachers are “enabling adults”, who play a crucial role in enabling students to become readers and writers. Providing access to a wide variety of books and formats, and working with the school librarian, helps create a reader-friendly school library.
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This section looks at ways you can help your students become engaged readers and writers through effective use of the library, its resources and collaboration with the library team.
Liaison between teachers and the library team
Library policies as barriers or enablers for student borrowing
Library timetabling - fixed or flexible access to your library
Know the reader, know the books
The school library and library staff are important resources for the classroom teacher in connecting students with books and other reading material. When you and library staff stimulate book discussion and share titles you help students become enthusiastic, thoughtful and discriminating readers.
The library team can offer a variety of services to teachers, in support of student reading.
Find out more about the librarian's role.
Library staff are well placed to help students find books that match their interests and reading levels. Other reading-related services include:
- offering enticing reading promotions and other reading-focused activities
- adding new titles to the library in response to teacher and student recommendations
- using Web 2.0 channels to communicate and engage with students and teachers such as a library blog
- coordinating book reviews written by themselves, students, and teachers and posting these up in the library, and on a library blog or web page
- promoting books to students through book talks, book clubs, reading aloud to classes, and providing lists of recommended reading for different interests.
For more suggestions about ways to make the most of your school library and librarian see the helpful list from Doug Johnson, a school librarian who writes and blogs about school libraries, technology and education.
Watch videos showcasing well integrated library services delivered by talented library staff who support schools' achievement goals.
Providing access to reading material is essential for creating readers. Policies can either support reader development in schools or hinder it. Borrowing limits are one area where policies can impact on student reading.
Find out what the policy is in your school library regarding borrowing. Ideally borrowing policies should be the least restrictive possible, allowing students to borrow from all areas of the collection without imposing low limits on numbers of items that can be borrowed.
For more information, including a case study, see Reader-friendly policies.
Ideally, flexible scheduling of the library enables access throughout the day. This allows students to use the library and its collections when they need to and during breaks, before and after school. However, this depends on your physical library space, the level of library staffing, and whether your library can accommodate whole classes, groups and individual students at the same time.
Maintaining some quiet reading areas in school libraries ensures students can read their chosen books in the library and gives the message that "reading is important" - here is a place to do it.
Integrate fiction into topic studies
Working with the library staff and the library catalogue means you can choose a range of fiction to integrate into curriculum topics your class is working on.
Literature can be linked to the writing process as well.
It is helpful when the catalogue is accessible from outside the library, in classrooms and also outside of school.
Visit the school library with your students
Taking students to the library for a purposeful visit is a great way for teachers to create readers. Enlist the librarian's help. Perhaps ask for a book talk or a show and tell of new books to start the session. It's also a good idea to book library time to coincide with relevant activities in the classroom.
Plan your visit in advance with the librarian. Explain what your goals are with the library visit, such as getting students matched with books.
If you are new to the library or the school, ask for a tour of the library and for a show and tell of the catalogue and relevant technology. Let the librarian know of special interests within your class. If, for instance, you have a group of rugby or soccer enthusiasts or an individual with a passion for astronomy, the library staff might be able to have some books selected in advance.
To maximise your students library experience of choosing books, it is useful to have a good knowledge of your students interests and abilities and the material available for your class. The librarian will have a great knowledge of the books and together you will be able to match students to books they will enjoy. Over time both enabling adults' knowledge of students and books will grow.
"Reader development" refers to helping the student have great reading experiences. In practice this means guiding students to the right book at the right time. Rachel Van Riel at opening the book in the UK writes and speaks about reader-centred service and reader development.
Read more about the importance of School staff as readers.
Read more about Helping students choose books for reading pleasure.