Patron of Reading

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The Living Library by Karen King

Posted by [email protected] on June 16, 2015 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (1)

Author events usually consists of authors reading to students, talking about their work or running workshops but Linda Bromyard, the librarian at my POR School, Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College runs an annual Living Library which I am delighted to support. Linda tells the students that normally they come into the library and find books laid out on the tables, but for the Living Library they get the chance to talk to real authors about books, and a mix of authors at that. The event this year was held on 5 May and there were children's authors, Indie authors, romance authors and poets. Here's a photo of the cast this.

The event session always takes place in the school library and local authors from all genres are invited. We authors are all allocated a table each, on which we arrange our books, bookmarks, tip sheets, etc. Then the students work their way around the room, in groups of four. Each group is allowed ten minutes to talk to an author then they move onto the next table

It’s a fascinating way for the students to learn about different types of writing, to talk to a few authors in the space of one morning, to ask any questions they have and to discuss their own reading and writing. And just in case they can’t think of any questions, Linda supplies a list they can refer to if they want to. As an author, I always enjoy the experience of talking to small groups of children as opposed to a large class. It’s also a great way to network with other local authors and the coffee and chocolate biscuits Linda provides in the break are very welcome.

A good time was had by all and look at the fantastic feedback from the students.

 

The second Patron of Reading conference

Posted by [email protected] on February 28, 2015 at 10:45 AM Comments comments (1)

The second Patron of Reading conference took place at The Art Workers' Guild in London on Saturday 21st February 2015. It was opened by Tim Redgrave and Helena Pielichaty, whose opening message was that all schools are different, and therefore all school and patron relationships are different. There's no right way to be a Patron of Reading! Tim talked about how important it is for schools to move away from the 'reading for a test’ culture and how working with a patron can help that. He finished a quote from a child in his school, who said 'Without a patron I might read five books. With a patron I might read...well, more than five.' Helena ended with two pieces of practical advice: Schools, always value your patron, and patrons, don't overwhelm your schools with ideas because they'll never have the capacity to implement them all! She also emphasised that being a Patron of Reading was one of the best experiences of her writing career.

 

Session 1

The first session consisted of talks by Alan Macdonald (author), Josh Seigal (poet), Gillian Cross (author) and Mandy Wilson (librarian) about how they viewed the role of the patron.

 

Alan talked about the importance of schools with engaging with authors. He suggested that when an author is approached by a school, they should ask them a few questions. The questions could include: Why do you want a patron? Why am I the right patron for you? In practical terms, what do you want to achieve from having a patron? He talked about how his role is having a huge impact on the children of his school, but also about how it had expanded into a much bigger role than had he first thought. It is important to move away from a 'standard' author visit and try to make every visit different. Involving parents is a key to success, but the most important advice was to make reading fun! The head of his school said 'We haven't had a moment's regret about having a Patron of Reading.'

 

Gillian shared her experiences of being a patron in two schools. She talked about how different the schools were and what a great opportunity it was for the schools to collaborate and broaden the children's experiences. She suggested that schools work together to shadow book awards and that a blog could be set up between the schools, allowing the students to communicate and share book recommendations. The schools could also take encouragement from each other's commitment to reading and feel that they are part of a bigger reading community. If an author wants to be a patron of more than one school, they should try and aim for two different types of school.

 

After performing a wonderful poem called Don't Call Out!, Josh spoke about his patron experiences in two different schools. He then talked more specifically about how he has used his skills as a poet in his role and what advice he would offer to other poet patrons:

 

• Performance- With poetry, the written poem is only half the job. It only really comes alive when it is performed!

• Participation- All children can succeed at reading and writing poetry. A love of poetry can lead to a love of all literacy.

• Possibility- Poetry can have an impact on any reader at any age. There are no limits...

 

Mandy finished the opening session by talking about the initiative through the eyes of a librarian. She shared the experiences that her school had had with their patron (the graphic novelists Metaphrog) and how it had changed the reading culture in the school. She offered practical advice on choosing a patron and making sure that they are the right 'fit' for the school, and how important it was for the relationship to keep evolving. She emphasised that one of the most important aspects of a successful relationship was the support of the headteacher and the leadership team. Mandy then talked about the value of the patrons having one main point of contact in the school, and how the feedback of pupils was crucial in planning future sessions.

 

Session 2

This session was led by three authors who were all relatively new patrons, Jo Cotterill, Julia Suzuki and Julia Grant.

 

Jo opened by talking about how that school had chosen her because she already had a relationship with them. She then listed a long list of ideas that she and the school had generated at the start of the year (book recommendations, displays, Patron of Reading prize, etc) but then admitted that due to time issues and the constraints of the school curriculum, they hadn’t all been implemented. It is crucially important for schools and patrons to manage their expectations at the start of their relationship.

 

Julia Suzuki has recently been appointed as Patron of Reading at one of her old schools. She spoke about authors being an inspiration to children and shared some of the different areas that she had worked in at the school (supporting gifted & talented pupils, working with children who have English as an additional language, etc). Julia felt was important for each visit to have a structure and a clear objective in order to have the maximum impact.

 

Julia Green had heard about the initiative at a conference hosted by the Bristol SLS. She had been approached by a librarian and then produced a document for the school to show what she felt could be achieved. She had three main objectives:

• To give reading a higher profile in the school, both with students and staff.

• To turn non-readers into readers.

• To give passionate readers the chance to meet and engage with each other.

She planned to get all staff on board with the idea but it hadn’t quite happened as yet. Julia’s key message was to let the school lead and set the pace.

 

Session 3

After lunch, Denyse Kirkby talked passionately about some of the whole school reading challenges that she has successfully introduced into her patron school and what being a Patron of Reading meant to her. She was followed by a workshop where patrons and schools went off into groups to share ideas and tips for having a Patron of Reading. These suggestions can be found in the ‘News’ section of the Patron of Reading website.

 

Session 4

The final main session of the day was chaired by Prue Goodwin. She introduced three speakers, Anne Sarrag from the Reading Agency, Miranda McKearney from the Empathy Lab and Ian Coles from the Big Green Bookshop.

 

Anne gave a brief overview of the work of the Reading Agency and what they are doing in order to encourage children to read for pleasure. The evidence from the UKLA supports the idea that the Summer Reading Challenge helps prevent the ‘summer dip’ in children’s reading ability. She talked about the importance of schools and patrons working together, and suggested that the Patron of Reading could help give the SRC a much higher profile in schools. It is important for patrons to try and engage with parents at a school, and perhaps a letter home from the patron and the opportunity to engage via social media would help with this.

 

Ian and the Big Green Bookshop are responsible for setting up the first local ‘chapter’ of patrons in Haringey. Although this is in its very early stages, he explained how all of the local authors and schools had engaged with it so far. They were planning to meet a couple of times a year in order to share good practice and work together to create a resource bank that could be used by all schools and patrons. He talked about how many parents come into the BGB with their children talking about how much they enjoyed author visits and how much they inspired them to read. If a one-off visit could create so much enthusiasm for reading, then how much more could a Patron of Reading create?

 

The final speaker of the day was Miranda McKearney who was talking about the Empathy Lab. She spoke about how words and stories can have so much power to build empathy in children and about how authors are often the ultimate empathy agents. Through their writing, an author can model to a child that it is absolutely fine to talk about their feelings in an open way. She talked about research that shows how reading fiction can improve the brain’s capacity for empathy and what a crucial role schools and patrons can play in this area of a child’s development.

 

Plenary

Helena finished the day by reiterating what a pleasure it had been to be involved with the initiative and how important it was to gear the whole Patron of Reading experience towards reading for pleasure. Real reading is reading for pleasure! There was a brief discussion about whether it would be of value to hold another conference next year or whether smaller regional meetings would be more productive (no firm conclusion was reached!). 


The conference closed with final thanks from Helena Pielichaty, Tim Redgrave, Jon Biddle and Denyse Kirkby.

 

How Philip Caveney introduced the Patron of Reading idea to his school

Posted by [email protected] on May 13, 2014 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

A MESSAGE FROM OUR PATRON OF READING

I’d like to tell you a little bit about the Patron of Reading scheme. I was enthusiastic about the idea from the very first moment I heard of it. Published authors were invited to add their names to a waiting list, which would be made available to schools around the area where they lived. If chosen, the writer would be expected to work very closely with a particular school. His or her books would be read, studied and quite possibly criticised. The idea was to get students enthusiastic about reading and to show them that writers were just people who started out as readers - and went that bit further.

So I put my name on the list and settled down to wait. It felt a bit like being a product on eBay. You didn’t know which school would choose you or when or even why – but whoever got there first would have you exclusively as their Patron. Oh sure, you could visit any number of other schools (I still do!) but only one could enjoy your official patronage, which meant basically that this was the institution you would go the extra mile for. You would visit often. You would answer questions. You would judge competitions. And you would write blogs. (Just like this one).

For a day or so, nothing happened and I started to worry. What if nobody wanted me as a patron? What if secretly people hated my books and would do anything to avoid having me visit them on a regular basis? Luckily, this turned out to be just writers’ paranoia. A lady called Britta Leonard, the librarian at Wentworh High School in Eccles, sent me a lovely email, saying she’d read all about the scheme and thought it sounded great. Would I consider being the Patron of Reading for Wentworth High? Would I? Of course I would!

I proudly announced the news of this new post to my friends on Facebook, whereupon there was some confusion. One or two people thought I was now the Patron of the town, Reading (pronounced Redding) while others got a bit mixed up and thought I’d said I was the Patron Saint of Reading, which let’s face it would be a pretty lofty role for anybody to live up to!

Strangely, once I was chosen, offers came in from other schools, but Britta was quickest on the draw and a date for my first visit was duly set. Now, let me share a secret with you. I love visiting schools. I love talking to students and telling them how I first got inspired to write when I was their age and, most of all, I LOVE proving to students who think they could never write fiction that they actually can and, what’s more, are surprised at how good they are when they give it a go. All it takes is a little encouragement.

So I turned up for the first session. I did my talk, I ran a series of workshops and almost before I knew it, the day was over. Everybody who took part worked their socks off and some truly fabulous writing was produced. Go Wentworth! Another two visits are already planned, one in February and one in March, aptly enough in World Book Week. WBW is always the busiest time in a writer’s calendar because that’s the week when every school in the UK decides that they must have a writer visit their school. But once again, Wentworth got there first. Nice one Britta!

Looking further ahead, I’m also excited about visiting the brand new Wentworth School, which is currently taking shape just across the field from its current location and should be completed later this year.

The creation of a new school is always an exciting time for staff and pupils alike, when everything that is familiar goes out of the window and a whole new set of challenges arises. From what I’ve seen of the new building, I believe it’s going to be a school to be proud of and I’m looking forward to being involved.

So, with that thought firmly in mind, I’ll get back to the story I’m currently writing. It’s about a ventriloquist’s dummy who thinks he’s a real boy. And you know what? He actually might be... Stay tuned. It’ll probably see the light of day some time in 2015.

All the best,

Philip Caveney

Every School Should Have One!

Posted by [email protected] on March 25, 2014 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

This article originally appeared in Teen Librarian Monthly, March 2014:

 

During half term I went to the first Patron of Reading Conference held at the Society of Authors in Kensington, with my own PoR, Sita Brahmachari.  It was a brilliant day. 

 

I first heard of the PoR scheme last year, and thought it would be an excellent idea to have a “special, designated children's author with whom the school forms a personal attachment”.  You can see full details on the website www.patronofreading.co.uk, but I’d just like to share a few things that Sita and Fortismere have done since last September to whet your appetite.

 

She’s run three workshops based around her books for Years 7 (Artichoke Hearts), 8 (Jasmine Skies) and 9 (Kite Spirit).   She attended our Year 7 Poetry Festival and chatted to students and their parents, and our Breakfast Club Christmas party - getting here at the unearthly hour of 7.45 am to present certificates to our less able readers.  On World Book Day, Sita did 10 minute visits to as many English classes as possible to chat about the wonders of reading and to promote the WBD competition that she devised.  This is a “literary menu” with a starter of a great first line, a main course of a recommended novel and a sweet treat of eg. a song lyric, a famous quotation…She will be judging these before they are laminated and left around the school for other students to “taste”.  And we have filmed Sita talking about books and reading – this can be shown in assemblies, tutor time and linked to our website for parents to watch.

 

We have lots more plans.  Sita would like to shadow a Year 7 class throughout the school until they reach Year 11.  We are also hoping to involve some of our students in the filming of the book trailer for her next book, “Red Leaves”.  We were inspired by the multitude of ideas that other authors had when we met them during the conference.  And we love the fact that the students here feel a sense of “ownership” – they have their own author that they recognise and who knows them.

 

Sita lives locally to Fortismere – this works very well for us.  But many schools’ Patrons are from further afield, some even live in other countries!  They link up with blogs, emails, Skype, videos – and every one of them is dedicated and passionate about encouraging the students in the schools they work with to love reading and books.  But I am amazed that there are plenty of authors who want to be PoRs, but cannot find a school to work with.  I knew Sita from previous visits to the library and approached her direct.  If you can’t do this, on the website you will see plenty of “homeless” authors who are looking for someone just like you to adopt them and work with them.  Honestly, every school should have one!

 

Gill Ward, Senior Librarian, Fortismere School, Muswell Hill, London N10

All aboard the train to Parliament?

Posted by Dee on March 5, 2014 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (1)

After the (most enjoyable) inaugural Patron of Reading conference I wrote to the local Councillor who is the Cabinet Member for Education and Children to update him on the conference and future plans. Included in the conference feedback was the fact that the patron of reading initiative / movement/ innovation / service has already been discussed in Scotish Parliament, and that I thought it should also get the same recognition in England.

After asking for his support with introducing the patron of reading initiative in English Parliament I closed the update reminding him that fostering a love of reading is so powerful in a child's life that the benefits are almost immeasurable.

The councillor’s response was fast and favourable – he said that if we could give him a ghost letter then he would “write to our local MPs, David Laws, Michael Gove and others binging attention to this worthy cause”. I ran dry at this point but Jon Biddle has kindly agreed to draft something up…just as soon as he has time to sit still long enough to do so. I think that if enough of us wrote to councilors with the same info, and they in turn passed the info onto MPs, then it wouldn’t be long before the patron of reading innovation was getting the recognition it deserves in English Parliament.

A peek inside a patron of reading session

Posted by Dee on February 16, 2014 at 3:50 AM Comments comments (1)

Are you wondering what goes on in a patron of reading session? Well, we all do different things but here is a peek at the highlights of my last patron of reading session:

 

First - a whole school assembly to celebrate the reading achievements so far:

 

  • 13 Super Star Readers - chosen for reading 3 times a week plus an additional reason such as: huge improvements with attitude to reading, always reading EVERY night, reading when on holiday, challenging themselves with book choice and showing a real commitment to their reading
  • 128 Star Readers (an almost 50% increase since last half term) - awarded for reading at home three or more times per week
  • 65 Star Book Borrowers - awarded for borrowing at least one school library book per week
  • The prequel and first chapter of Hoardland (my next book which the students, teachers and parents are reading and voting on elements of, as I write it) read and voted on.

 

Then we headed to the library (which I had turned into a water safari) to explore a different dimension to the book we are currently reading (Raffie Island) where the characters have to swim from the underwater portal to the island. We had to avoid getting stung by jelly fish, swim under planks of a rotting ship without touching them (or they would break and trap us under water) and through seaweed until we got to the safety of the cave in the far corner of the room (top right of photo) where we could read whatever we wanted. Although I had designed this activity to work on reader's comprehension and processing of what we are reading, this activity proved very popular not only with the students but also some of the teachers were very keen to try to successfully get through the challenges of the water safari.

 

Gypsie (one of the peer reading champions) showed me a behaviour / reward system she had designed to use during her weekly PoWR sessions where she and another peer champion support a group of eight younger students through a guided reading session. There are eight peer champions (two for each of the four groups of eight) and they all design their own ways of encouraging good behaviour.

 

Last but not least, Jack (another peer reading champion) showed me a story he had begun writing about a very unusual superhero. We had a long talk about where he wants to go with the plot of his story and about what order he might do this in. I am looking forward to seeing how much Jack gets written during half term!

 

I haven't been able to upload the photos to this post but you can see them all on my website - click here for the water safari, here to see Gypsie's behaviour system and here to see Jack and his story so far.

Our visit from John Dougherty by Megan and Madison

Posted by [email protected] on January 31, 2014 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (0)

John Dougherty is our Patron of Reading. When he came to see us last week, it was the best day of the year. He sang silly songs and made our day much happier. It was a real treat for us to work with him as he made us laugh so much. We wanted his visit to last forever.

 

He came and did an assembly first of all and read us some of his new book which is called Stinkbomb & Ketchup-Face and the Badness of Badgers. It was very funny. He then sang us some songs and talked to us about which books he liked. He told us a poem too but I can't remember that so well.

 

He then went to all the classes and talked to them about reading. He knows lots of famous authors like Helena Pieilichaty who is our class author of the term. He said he was very proud to be our Patron of Reading. When he was in 4JB he sang a song about pants. My face went red when he sang it.

 

The next day he did another funny assembly and sang a song about needing to go to the toilet. Some parents came to watch the assembly and they laughed at his songs too. He then said why everybody should read lots of books. He gave out prizes for the Spooky Story competition and also for the John Dougherty Reading Trophy. There were two winners, a girl from Year Three and a girl from Year Five. We had 150 people vote on who they thought should win it. Lots of the teachers nominated children too.

 

After that he did some selling books and signing them in the library. We could choose what colour pen we wanted him to use. When John had to leave it was an awful sight and we nearly cried because of it. We want him to come again soon.

 

Here are some quotes from some adults:

 

"It was a fantastic experience for the children to work with a real author. They loved it!" Mr Edge

 

"John Dougherty was the best author I have ever seen in a school!" Mr Arden

Our first Patron visit- Dr Patrick Ryan

Posted by [email protected] on January 27, 2014 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Dr Patrick Ryan, the Patron of Reading at Bury St Edmunds County Upper School, ran a series of workshops for staff and students of schools in the Bury St  Edmunds Academy Trust on Friday 24th January 2014. The Academy Trust links Barrow Primary, Horringer Court and Westley Middle schools with County Upper in order to offer a 4 to 19 education. Staff work together to ensure that the students receive a high quality of teaching throughout their education and this was the first event where English teachers from the schools had the opportunity to work together. The CPD workshops covered academic research relating to the development of literacy skills in young children as well as the benefits of using a variety of methods to inspire and improve creative thinking and writing in students.

Pat then led storytelling sessions with students from the Primary and Middle schools, immediately followed by sessions with Upper school students. These were enjoyed by all and it was interesting for staff to see the students working in a very different environment. After lunch the sixth formers from County Upper learned about the value of storytelling and, after demonstrations and guidance, practised their skills. The plan is for these sixth formers to work as leaders in paired and shared reading with students at County Upper and then to develop reading and storytelling sessions with the feeder schools. It is very early days yet but there will now be a Tuesday lunchtime session for sixth formers, overseen by Mrs Loughton and Ms Thomas from the English faculty, and a paired reading session during Thursday morning registration overseen by Mrs Loughton.

We hope that our continuing work with our Patron and our own interest in developing a wider variety of teaching and learning will prove to be a positive addition to all of the schools in the Academy Trust. Pat is an absolute inspiration and his outstanding skills with students as well as his wealth of research and knowledge related to developing literacy make us very glad that he has agreed to be our Patron of Reading.

 

End of term one reading celebration

Posted by Dee on January 10, 2014 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (1)

Well what a fantastic term it has been, and what a privilege it is to be the patron of reading for Beacon View Primary Academy! It is so lovely to see the increase in numbers of students who are enjoying reading in their own time. This term we have also enjoyed:

  1.  being interviewed about the patron of reading initiative by BBC Radio Solent
  2. being shortlisted for an award for drawings and stories written about museum artefacts (which are currently on display at the Natural History Museum in Portsmouth, and the award ceremony is in January 2014)
  3. taking part in two all school reading related competitions
  4. watching a video of clips from writers sharing with us why they think reading is great fun
  5. starting to steer the direction of book four in the Portal Series by reading each chapter as I write it and making choices in the voting polls
  6. making a literacy chain (each link has the title of a book read in term one)
  7. exploring new ways to enjoy reading books

At the end of each term I hold an all school reading celebration assembly where we celbrate all the great things students have done in relation to reading. At the celebration assembly at the end of term one there were:

 12 Super Star Readers – chosen for reading 3 times a week plus an additional reason such as: huge improvements with attitude to reading, always reading EVERY night, reading when on holiday, challenging themselves with book choice and showing a real commitment to their reading

83 Star Readers (almost double the amount since last half term) - awarded for reading at home three or more times per week

 67 Star Book Borrowers (8 times more students borrowing library books compared to last half term!) - awarded for borrowing at least one school library book per week

8 Peer Reading Champions - awarded in recognition of the good work these Year Six students do with leading the PoWR reading groups in the weeks that I am not at the school.

There is now also the Paulsgrove Library Award, which is given each term to the child who has supported the local public library the most ( by book borrowing, attending activities and by their good behaviour in the library).

 Well done to all the readers at Beacon View Primary Academy! 


Interview with Angela Lucey, assistant head at Beck Primary School.

Posted by [email protected] on November 7, 2013 at 3:45 PM Comments comments (1)

Alan Macdonald, author of the hugely popular Dirty Bertie series and about 100 other titles has recently started in his role as Patron of Reading at Beck Primary School in Sheffield. Angela Lucey, previously the English coordinator and now assistant head and Reading Recovery teacher at the school, has kindly agreed to talk about the impact that the scheme is having on their children and staff.

 

Why did you decide to get a Patron of Reading for your school?

Our school is located on a large council estate in Sheffield. The population we serve is one of the most deprived with our percentage of free school meals being way above the national average. It follows that reading isn't always at the top of our families agenda. As literacy co-ordinator I worked for many years to improve reading standards within school and these have improved year on year and whilst this was very pleasing I still felt that something was missing. I went to a conference and a speaker opened with the line 'If I could give you one tip for the future, reading would be it.' Something clicked and we set about trying to show our children and families that reading has a direct impact on their future. Later, I attended Active Citizen training with the National Literacy Trust and from that came an email from Jon Biddle regarding the Patron of Reading scheme and I thought this could be the missing link. When we approached Alan he didn't immediately say yes. Another school had also approached him and he asked us both to answer some questions (see below) to help him decide on a school. I have included part of my answer to his first question.

Why does your school want a Patron of Reading?

We are a very large primary school in Sheffield...so you would be reaching a LOT of children! We are situated on a large council estate in a socially and economically deprived area.

I have been literacy co-ordinator here for several years and have been working hard to try and raise the profile of reading. Reading was seen as something that had to be done rather than to be enjoyed. What I am trying to achieve here is an environment where a love of reading is inspired in our children. We want reading to be something that is valued by our children and parents. We have invested a great deal of money into 'real' books and we try to encourage reading at any given opportunity. Despite all of our efforts we do have a significant proportion of children who do not voluntarily engage with reading. Some of our parents have low literacy levels so are unable to support their children at home and the knock on effect of this, is that they do not value literacy or give a positive message to our children about it (this is where you - hopefully- come in!)

We would like a patron so that children have a concrete example of a positive role model who can enthuse and generate excitement. I really do believe that literacy and particularly reading is the key to having a chance at success in life. We want our children to see authors as real people and realise that there is no reason that they cannot aspire to be one themselves if they choose! As well as being a role model we want our patron to have a 'presence' in school, physically and remotely! At times when we book visits, we would be wanting you to work alongside our children to help ignite the imagination, to let the mind free and see what comes! I also want them to have the opportunity to have books read to them by the voice that wrote them and for them to be able to ask questions and have discussions. I want the children to feel that we have a real connection and that the patron is interested in them and our school.

Why do you think I'd be the right author for you ?

What would you like the author to offer in practical terms - both in visits and through the general link?

Are there any specific projects/ideas you have in mind?

This was actually a great thing to do, it focussed the mind and made me really think about what we were hoping to achieve. It was also good to think about why we thought Alan was the right author, because I do think that getting the right author for the school and vice versa is key to the success of the partnership.

 

How do you see the partnership developing over the next couple of years?

We have five visits booked this year with Alan working with all Key Stages. The children are hugely motivated by his visits and we are working hard to take advantage of that. During his visits we have a working lunch with a designated working party to keep the momentum going. So far we have completely revamped reading areas within classrooms with all teachers taking part in a competition to put in place the most engaging book area. We have put in place a reading challenge that all children are taking part in, Alan has set the final challenge and there will be a presentation ceremony at the end of the year. We are currently shortlisting for the Beck Book Awards and children will be reading and voting for their favourite. Alan was here yesterday working with Y5 and Y6 (180 children) the response was amazing from both children and staff. I received so many positive comments from children and appreciative emails from staff.

 

What impact do you think it will have on children reading for pleasure?

We are already starting to see an impact. At the end of Alan's visit yesterday he kindly agreed to hold a book signing, the turnout was stunning, we never imagined that so many parents and children would purchase his books and then queue - for an hour in some cases to get them signed. They left the hall as though they were carrying a most treasured belonging, which of course is how we want our children to feel about books. I also think that having a Patron of Reading keeps reading high profile and children are constantly engaging with reading initiatives now that probably wouldn't have happened had we not put this in place. We have noticed a significant increase in the amount of reading that our children are doing, they change their books more regularly and at break times are often seen to be choosing a book over the other activities that are provided on the yards. Another great response from yesterday was when a parent remarked to me this morning that they had gone home and at bed time had snuggled up and started reading the book together - she couldn't remember the last time they had done this. I have to say I'm pretty proud of what we are achieving together here.

 

How have the staff of the school supported the initiative? Has it had an impact on their attitudes to reading?

Staff have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic. When we introduced the Patron of Reading idea to staff in the summer term they could all see that it would benefit our children. I don't think anyone realised the impact that it would have though. We run early transition here, the last few weeks of the year children move up to their next year's teacher and we used this as an opportunity to run a mini topic on Alan's books throughout school. This was really beneficial as it familiarised children and staff with a wide range of his work - he immediately had status! The workshops that Alan is running on his visits here this year have been really well received so far, the staff were equally as fired up as the children. We have always tried to be 'reading friendly' but there has been a definite shift in attitudes and reading is now right there in the centre of everything that is going on. That's made me incredibly happy!

 

Is there any advice that you would give to schools (and authors) who would like to get involved?

The first thing is to do it, absolutely and without hesitation I would say that. Secondly spend some time thinking about your children in school, what their interests are and whether there are any particular target groups you want to try and engage. For us it was important to engage the boys by choosing an author who would appeal to them as well as girls and to try and find someone who would have an impact from nursery right through to year 6. I'm delighted that Alan agreed to be our Patron because he is perfect for us. Equally, from an authors point of view I am sure the same applies, the school has to fit what they are interested in and hopefully they have a shared vision about what they would like to achieve. Maybe you should ask Alan about the authors point of view he can no doubt add more about that!

 

Any other comments

Only to say that we haven't had a moments regret about getting involved with this. I think it has been one of the greatest factors in raising the profile of reading that I've put in place, it's also been significant in team working, we now have a strong working party all working together to promote reading, whether that be in the curriculum, the reading environment or reading for pleasure. Yesterday after what had been a really successful day I went home and thought...'when I leave this place I think this will be the thing of which I am most proud.'


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