Reading promotion

Reading promotion gives you the chance to raise the profile of books and reading in your school, while at the same time sharing your passion for high-interest titles, favourite authors, and the joy of living a bookish life.


The importance of planning
The librarian’s role in promoting reading
Whole school activities
Promoting reading in secondary schools
Some key literary days and events

The importance of planning

Creating a strategic promotion plan will help you build a strong school-wide reading culture, which targets all members of your school community.

Here are some things to consider as you make your plan:

  • How will your promotion fit in with the school’s and the library’s wider literacy and reading goals?
  • How can you coordinate with teachers’ unit plans?
  • Only commit to what you have time for. It is better in the long run to focus on quality and consistency rather than quantity.
  • Document what you do so you can report on evidence and learning outcomes.
  • Create a planning template and share it with staff and students to ask for ideas and input.

Read more about evidence and learning outcomes.

The librarian’s role in promoting reading

The library is at the heart of reading promotion and a reading culture in your school. What's more, the librarian’s role in creating readers is one of the most exciting and satisfying parts of the job.

There are numerous ways you can promote reading in the library and throughout the school. It also gives you an opportunity to collaborate with other staff and perhaps get a team together to share the tasks.

Promotion ideas for the library

  • Create dynamic displays that connect to events:
    • at school such as outdoor adventure stories in the weeks before camp
    • in the wider reading world, such as news about books or related movies, award winners and author birthdays. Check out Pinterest for creative and inspiring book display ideas.
  • Display snapshots of students and teachers with their favourite books on a digital photo frame. Have a contest and ask for photos of students dressed as their favourite fictional character or reading in unusual places.
  • Run a library week with quizzes, scavenger hunts, contests such as a book holding contest, and a dress as your favourite character day. Be creative and have fun!
  • Start a book club to bring readers together and get them talking about favourite titles.

Read more about book clubs.

Encouraging teachers to read and promote reading

  • Encourage staff to read by promoting books to teachers as well as students. Do booktalks at staff meetings, buy books you know teachers will enjoy, and suggest titles for staff reading over the holidays.
  • Suggest a read-aloud to teachers, which is linked to their current topic and/or offering to come to classes and booktalk topic-specific books.
  • Run a “Get caught reading” raffle: every time a teacher “catches” a student reading the student gets a ticket and goes into the draw for a weekly prize.

Read more about school staff as readers.

Read more about reading aloud and read-alouds.

The library online

Bringing your promotion online is a wonderful way to reach the wider school community as well as your students. You could try:

  • writing a regular column in the school newsletter - showcase new releases, ask students to write reviews, and suggest family read-alouds
  • creating your own library newsletter (check out the way this New Zealand school librarian has used Smore to create monthly library newsletters online)
  • posting book trailers, reviews and other promotional material online, for example on your school library web page, blog or Facebook page. If you have a Goodreads or Shelfari account you can create a virtual bookshelf on your site to show off your latest reads and purchases
  • sharing “What should I read next” resources that students and parents can access anywhere. You can make your own lists, or try creating interactive images the way this librarian did using Thinglink. Joyce Valenza’s curated list of Reading Suggestion Engines  may also be useful.

Whole school activities

Schoolwide promotions are a fantastic way to get the entire community excited about reading. Here are a few ideas to try when you want to involve all the teachers and students at your school:

  • Author visits are a great way to bring the school together.
    • Check the New Zealand Book Council site for information about New Zealand authors and their Writers in Schools Programme.
    • Virtual visits can also work. Kate Messner's site includes authors who offer free Skype sessions.
  • Students love a bit of friendly competition.
    • See which class can read the most pages or for the most hours in a week
    • have a book trailer awards show
    • or adapt one of these reading games and competitions to best fit your school community.
  • Shadow the NZ Post Book Awards or try setting up your own Battle of the books or Mock Newbery awards.
  • Share this ReadWriteThink calendar of literary events and activities with your students and colleagues and together plan a few schoolwide events.
  • Involve families by planning a community-wide read (PDF) and hosting discussions in your library and classrooms.
  • Participate in the Kids’ Lit Quiz.
  • Promote your local public library and encourage students to participate in holiday reading challenges.
  • Get your entire school community involved in your own summer reading programme.

Promoting reading in secondary schools

Here are some ideas that will be particularly appropriate in a secondary school setting:

  • Many secondary schools have school-wide Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) time. Be sure students have access to quality reading material during this time. Put together book boxes for classrooms full of high interest items, which will appeal to all types of readers such as magazines and graphic novels.
  • Ask for student input into reading promotion. One school in the UK involved Year 10 boys in an ‘Apprentice-style’ challenge. They were given a day and a half to find ways of promoting reading for pleasure and then presented their ideas to staff, parents, and other students.
  • Ask each department for help in developing your collection so students have access to books that reflect all areas of the curriculum. Work with teachers to plan events that involve the library. For example, choose a text for your reading group that matches a current History topic or invite Drama students to perform in the library.
  • Family book clubs work particularly well at secondary level and students and parents may be starting to share books at home. Invite parents to attend reading groups, send out lists of recommended titles, and ask parents to come speak to students about their reading lives.

Some key literary days and events

  • World Read Aloud Day held on the first Wednesday of March each year.
  • The Global Read Aloud
  • World Book Day
  • All Hallow’s ReadA Halloween tradition, All Hallow's read simply requires you to give someone a scary book in the week of Halloween, or on the night itself.
  • International Literacy Day On 8 September, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and its partners promote International Literacy day to draw attention to the significance of literacy for healthy societies.
  • The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival James Kennedy founded this annual contest, which encourages children to create 90 second (or less) movies based on Newberry Award winning books.

Image: A teacher's reading goals at Matarau School