Having established a successful reading culture within Findochty Primary, we thought long and hard about how to keep things fresh and engaging for all of our children. We decided the best way forward would be to encourage them to take the lead, helping to plan and deliver activities to embed our reading culture within the school and wider community.
A group of senior pupils became Book Ambassadors, with the role of promoting our FRED (Findochty Reads Every Day) campaign. They created challenges and competitions throughout the year, encouraging children to read a broader range of books, discover new authors and new genres. To involve the wider community, they created a Findochty Reads Facebook page and a hidden book trail. To their amazement even holidaymakers visiting the village got involved in the campaign, leaving a review and comment on the books they found, read and then re-hid for others to enjoy.
“It has been great to share my love of reading with everyone and to inspire others to read books too. Being a Book Ambassador has also broadened my reading horizons. I would really encourage others to get involved and become a Book Ambassador, the impact it has had on me and my school has been fantastic. A book can take you anywhere!” Marina, Book Ambassador.
Reading in class
Every day, 15 minutes was set aside for FRED time. Class libraries were updated to include comics, newspapers and magazines. This has helped senior pupils become more aware of the world around them, and they are asking more questions about what they are reading.
We also incorporated a variety of digital devices into our class reading, with pupils using Oxford Owl Reading Buddies to access a range of books online. The children loved listening to stories being read to them.
Children were encouraged to choose their own book from the school library to use for their homework task. Each pupil was given a selection of creative challenges to take part in with their families. This helped families to get involved in our reading culture and we saw great engagement across the school.
Building on family engagement
The Read, Write, Count bags for P2 and P3 are a great resource, and we made sure to set aside time to introduce the children to the contents of the bags in class ahead of gifting events. At the gifting events, our senior pupils, with the help of their young buddies, demonstrated to parents how to make the most out of the resources included in the bags. This helped to carry the excitement of reading in school home for families to share with each other.
“It’s always nice to be invited into school and be part of the magic that happens there… it isn’t just about the books and the bag it is the whole learning experience, children helping support us to support the learning at home.” Parent.
Focus on writing
Whole school engagement in the Talk for Writing programme has increased the role of books as a stimulus for writing across the school. For example, P1/2 listen to and retell stories using story maps, and then use these as a resource to write their own versions of the stories. We wanted to build on this by working with an author, so we applied for Inspiring Classrooms funding.
Being accepted for Inspiring Classrooms funding allowed us to invite Barbara Henderson back to Findochty to work with the entire school. We organised creative writing workshops, drama workshops, a puppet show and a whole school assembly sharing her author journey. This created a real buzz within the school community and a renewed excitement for reading and writing. Meeting a ‘real-life’ author inspired our children, and staff, to become more creative, show more positivity towards their writing and display an increased enjoyment in reading for pleasure.
If you would like to work with an author, applications are currently open for Inspiring Classrooms funding! The deadline for applying is 26 November 2020.