Recently our Director, Miranda McKearney chaired a discussion at Capita's Moving English Forward conference for teachers. Here is an extract from her introductory remarks.
The arguments about the importance of reading for pleasure have been won. We have several key pieces of research from OECD, UKLA and Oxford University and others showing just how critical enjoying reading is to literacy acquisition. Ofsted now requires schools to have reading for pleasure policies and it is included in the new draft curriculum. There's even a Department for Education reading for pleasure civil servant.
But schools can't do this alone. A drive to inspire children to enjoy reading has to be systemic, reaching across home, school and the community. I believe the time is right for a new era of partnership working - public libraries' community reading support should be factored into schools' reading for pleasure policies, alongside the support of schools library services.
The Summer Reading Challenge is a perfect focus for building partnerships between schools and libraries as it runs in 98% of local authorities and is a great example of how the partners can complement each others' roles. The programme runs in public libraries during the school holidays and schools can build linked programmes of work into the summer and autumn terms.
The Summer Reading Challenge has a simple magic which really works to engage thousands of children in reading for pleasure, sometimes for the first time in their lives. UKLA research shows that the Challenge helps prevent the summer holiday dip in literacy levels. And it's not just primary schools and their children who benefit: teenage Summer Reading Challenge volunteers also gain massively in confidence and skills.
Public libraries are changing. They're offering creative, social, motivating reading activities in every community. I suggest they are key partners for primary and secondary schools throughout the UK.