Patron of Reading

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Every School Should Have One!

Posted by jon.biddle@gmail.com on March 25, 2014 at 4:30 PM

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

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