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Enticing New Readers into the Library

School librarian Shelley Fallows explores what has worked, and what hasn't, in her latest 'books and bribery' blog - or, 'How to entice new readers into the library'!

'I have just come to the end of my first full year in the Library and I am now beginning to reflect on what has worked and what hasn't this year.

Library Club

As a school we are incredibly fortunate with the range of clubs on offer, both at lunchtime and after school. I run two clubs each week in the Library, however there are SO many to choose from.

There has been a big push on seasonal sports, and subject enhancing clubs such as Maths, Drama, Science and languages, to name a few. There is also the opportunity for pupils to try their hand at Film Making, Robot Wars, Mindfulness, Music, Public Speaking, and even Street Art Graffiti. So I do have some very stiff competition.

Of course, with homework on top of all this, there is often a reluctance to commit to reading as part of a book club, therefore my sign up has been rather small this year. There are also two other reading clubs run by our English department and so it does seem a little overkill to have yet another in the Library. So how am I planning to get around this next year? Well...

In the run up to Christmas I held pom-pom making activities to decorate our Library Christmas Tree. It was incredibly popular and one pupil even said that we should do it all year round. So this had me thinking, how can I tempt the students in here to chat about books and perhaps read one or two together, but for it not to seem like yet another 'book club'?

I have decided to tweak my club slightly and run a 'Library Club' where each session we'll get try a different skill or craft such as pom-pom making or origami. I feel a little like the child catcher in Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang, enticing them in with sweet treats and then subtly chatting about the books we are reading and suggesting new books to them.

One thing I do know is that I want my Library to be something that is fluid and an amalgamation of resources that will not only spark their imaginations but calm their stressed out minds too. I want it to be a refuge.

Shadowing Book Awards

One activity that has been rather enjoyable this year was participating in The ABA's or, as it's formally known, The Sussex Coast Schools Amazing Book Awards. The ABA's were founded in 2011 by a small group of Sussex Librarians to give students a voice. The longlist is sent out to participating schools and the pupils are asked to vote which five they would like to see in the shortlist. The numbers are counted and the shortlist is announced.

Our reading group then read all five books on the shortlist and have just submitted out votes for the winning book. It was all rather exciting. One thing that I love about books is the way each and every one of us experience them differently. The discussion held between our small group of readers was fascinating and we each crowned a different winner as our first choice.

In 2018, Penny Joelson was crowned the winner for her thriller I Have No Secrets. This year the short list is equally strong, heck even the long list was strong with a wonderfully eclectic selection of books. The best thing about this award is that it gives the students the opportunity to sit on a judging panel and add their voices to the votes.

It was quite an interesting process and the ABA team have made it straight forward and easy to follow. We very much look forward to discovering who the overall winner is in a few weeks' time. I do think book awards in children's and young adult fiction are very important and so although the book club hasn't been quite the success I had hoped this year, I am going to endeavour to enlist a group of five student judges to participate next year.

There is such a varied selection of awards now that there is ample opportunity to get involved. Locally for us there are The ABA's, The Southern Schools Book Award and of course the opportunity to shadow awards such as the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Children's Book Awards.

It all helps to give a buzz to reading and hopefully get pupils picking up books, which is what it's all about after all.'

The ABA Shortlist 2019:

S.T.A.G.S by MA Bennett
Moonrise by Sarah Crossan
The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James
Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen
The Extinction Trials by S M Wilson

19/06/2019Enticing New Readers into the Library
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