‘Set a Challenge!’
- Start a book club – you can meet weekly, fortnightly or monthly, and there are lots of ways to run a book club. In some schools, readers of similar ages meet and discuss whatever book they’re each reading, so that they can share recommendations. In others, a group chooses a book to read together so that they can discuss that book. The first choice might be made by a teacher, librarian or parent book club facilitator, but allowing young people to choose the books themselves is a more powerful way to give them authority.
- Write your own stories and comics with your classmates.
- Visit Fighting Words with your class for a creative writing workshop. http://www.fightingwords.ie/
- Have fun creating your own stories with Rory’s Story Cubes- https://www.storycubes.com/
- Invite an author or illustrator to your school. Funding is available through Writers in Schools. http://www.poetryireland.ie/education/writers-in-schools/
- Get in touch with your local library. Libraries may have book clubs for children, events with authors and illustrators or reading challenges such as the Summer Buzz (https://twitter.com/summerbuzz). They can also arrange block loans if you wish to borrow multiple copies of the same book for a reading group or class.
- Get involved in the CBI Book of the Year Awards shadowing – each year, between the announcement of the CBI Book of the Year Award shortlist in March and the announcement of winners in May, groups all over Ireland read the shortlisted titles and vote on their favourites. The votes from young people are collated and the book with the highest score is given the Children’s Choice Award. For more information, see http://childrensbooksireland.ie/childrens-choice-award-and-shadowing-scheme
The shadowing activity pack is a valuable resource which can be used outside of the awards, too, and packs are available to download free of charge.
- Run a book swap! Have every child bring in a book they loved and lend it to a friend. Or clear out books they don’t want to give away to other readers.
- Dedicate ten minutes to reading every single day, perhaps at the end of the day, as a treat.
- Keep books in the classroom so that the children have access to them.
- Keep a book reviews display on a noticeboard or a wall in your class or library. Encourage children to write short reviews of books they’ve enjoyed and to stick their contributions on the wall. These can also be visual art displays for work inspired by books.
- Set a reading challenge: have the children read a certain number of books over the holidays or before the end of term, or get creative and set challenges to read in unusual places, to visit the local library and get a stamp, to find a book that has a certain object or animal in it etc. Ticking off a score sheet for each book read or challenge completed can be a powerful driver, and if small prizes are available at the end of the year, a celebration can be held.
- Find the right book: CBI’s Recommended Reads is a comprehensive guide produced each year which recommends books for young babies up to older teenagers. Let the children look through it or choose a selection you think they’ll love – your local librarian can help you source the books.
- Try something new: graphic novels, comics, magazines. Encouraging a reading habit is not just about reading classics and award winners. Allowing children to read widely, across fiction and non fiction, will help them to find out what kind of books are right for them, and will make them much more likely to reach for another book once they find the kinds they like.