Wednesday 11 September 2013

Why schools need libraries! One little girl's perspective

Reading does indeed rock, even more so when your child 'takes ownership' of it
As Charlotte begins Year 1 at school, we've noticed the subtle shift in the way she sees school, the new lessons, and most importantly the gentle steering towards even more of an appreciation for books and reading.

Yesterday she came home for the first time with a school library book. The book choice wasn't important (she chose an illustrated book about Pinocchio - based on the Disney movie) but what was vitally important was her reaction to being allowed into the school library for the first time, with her own library ticket, to make her own choice of a book to take home for a couple of weeks.

Her reaction was priceless.

Now, obviously we collaborate on a children's book blog where we're extremely fortunate to receive lovely children's books from wonderful publishers, and we also regularly buy books and borrow books from our excellent local library.

Note the "We" there - Usually either my wife or I accompany Charlotte to the local public library, or into bookshops, or we read the books we receive with her or to her. But with the school library book this was all hers and hers alone. Her choice, her book for the two weeks and her lovely library ticket that it was borrowed against.

That spark we'd nurtured for many years suddenly burst into a tiny little flame. After a summer of worrying that we weren't doing enough to keep up with the school's reading regimes, or that 'reading for school' rather than 'reading for fun' (should the two ever be separate? It always feels like they are) was the norm at home with any books brought home, it felt like we'd turned a corner - and because Charlotte was now properly in charge of her reading she could start to get more of a sense of ownership in the direction her reading is taking.

We've noticed too that as school move away from the phonics and decoding books towards books that are more traditionally 'story based' (for example a decent version of Jack and the Beanstalk) her interest grows as well. Aside from a tiny bit of branding, the Oxford Reading Scheme books are very much more in line with stories Charlotte reads for pleasure so she's taking to them with much more enthusiasm too. Hooray and thank goodness!

So school libraries are so very, very important. They're often overlooked in favour of schools favouring strides in IT, introducing new and fancy ways of boosting learning through technology, when sometimes it's the simplest little moment of showing children that they can be in charge of the direction their learning takes that can seriously change things for the better.

I'm absolutely on the edge of my seat to see what she brings home from the library next.