Sustaining your reading culture during lockdown

Boy reading

At this time of year, the Reading Challenge is usually focused on challenge submissions. Every year we love to hear about the reading journey you’ve been on, and how your reading culture has grown and blossomed.

This year looks quite different! While our submissions are open, and we would love to hear about your reading journeys, we’re also turning our attention to supporting you during this unprecedented time. What does a reading culture look like during lockdown? How can schools encourage reading for pleasure when they’re physically distant, and pupils have varying access to books? These are questions we are keen to answer, so as a first step we’ve looked at our tried and tested reading culture model to provide some structure and ideas.

Give reading a high profile

The ways in which schools are communicating with pupils and families at the moment are many and varied, but whatever the method, make sure that reading has pride of place. The importance of reading at the moment cannot be understated – it gives us all a way to relax, bond with our families and escape the current situation. Giving families opportunities to take advantage of these benefits is key, as is appreciating that the number of books they have physical access to will vary.

You can give reading a high profile by sharing Authors Live broadcasts; listening to author book readings online or even reading books aloud yourselves on video – there’s advice on copyright available here. There’s also a new fund available for author visits during lockdown through Live Literature, so you could have your own personal author session!

Reading role models

Informal interaction between staff and pupils is noticeably absent at the moment, and that includes conversations about books. If you usually have signs on doors around the school sharing what staff are reading, why not take this online and share your current reads on your class Twitter page or other online space? 

It’s also important to have honest conversations about the difficulties of reading at the moment, whether that’s losing access to a local library or struggling to concentrate on long books. Encourage your pupils to try new things, like exploring ebooks and audiobooks through Borrowbox or trying some poetry or short stories – they might even find a new favourite. You can contact a librarian in your local authority to check if you can access Borrowbox and find out how to get started.

Embedding books across the curriculum

Designing new book activities across the curriculum might be more difficult when you’re no longer reading a book together as a class, but there are still options out there! If you teach P1-3 and have gifted your Bookbug P1 or Read, Write, Count bags earlier this year, you know that all families have access to those books, and there are a wealth of resources and activity ideas available.

With pupils of all ages, you can encourage them to respond to whatever they have been reading in creative ways. You can find resources and activities to direct families to on the Scottish Book Trust Home Activities Hub. Some ideas might be:

  • film a book review or book trailer
  • draw what they imagine a book’s setting to look like
  • act out a scene alone or with siblings

Making time and space for reading

Families are trying to balance a lot at the moment. Recreating a full school timetable won’t be possible or even advisable for many, but some routine can help. Making reading part of that routine can look different for every school and every family. Good ides include planning a Drop Everything And Read session each week that families can opt in to, suggesting that they take part in #ReadingLunch every Thursday or focusing on bedtime reading.

Making a comfy space to read at home is also a fun activity for children to try. With a blanket or a cushion and a corner just for them, they can have a perfect hideaway to dive into a story.

More inspiration

We had so many ideas on this topic, we couldn’t possibly cover them all in one blog, so we have scheduled a webinar to discuss this subject in more detail and start a conversation with you about it.

Find out more about the webinar and sign up here.

We’ve also asked a few schools to give us their perspective on promoting reading for pleasure during lockdown, so look out for some real life examples coming soon to the blog! 

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