Patron Of Reading
In April I was fortunate enough to be appointed Patron Of Reading at our local primary school. Staff at the school are really committed to promoting reading – and specifically, reading for pleasure. We started off with a whole school assembly to explain that they’d be seeing me a lot around school over the next three years and that we’d be having a lot of book fun. The school have been running a reading incentive programme called Zero to Hero and those children who have managed to read one hundred books are known around school as Centurion Readers. Every week, in celebration assembly, more children reach this goal and stand up to be recognised for their achievement and it’s fantastic to see how motivated they are. Each child gets given a book to keep – this is a school that is putting its money where its mouth is.
In our assembly, all the Centurion Readers were called out to the front and applauded. Then they went with me to the library where we talked about the next step for them, now that they are all expert readers. I showed them some examples of book reviews and they were introduced to the Centurion Reader Blog. Their task – to write interesting reviews about the books they read. My task – to reply to their reviews, ask questions and sometimes make suggestions about other books they may enjoy. In short, the blog is intended to be a way for us to have book conversations, even when I’m not in school.
It’s really hard to find the time to write on a blog. I know that all too well. So I watched with interest over the first few days as a few readers experimented with writing reviews for an audience. As any book blogger will confirm, I’m sure, it’s actually pretty tricky to write about a story without including any spoilers or just outlining the plot. But something really brilliant has started to happen. Teachers have continued to encourage the children to share their reviews and the entries are changing. They’re starting to become more considered and well-crafted. The children are writing their reviews with a thought to the target audience and trying to ‘sell’ their chosen book to their peers.
And it isn’t just the reviews that are so great. It’s the fact that there, on the blog, is a fabulous record of the books that children enjoy reading. Some of our Centurion Readers are really young – our youngest reviewer so far is only six years old – and the blog provides a snapshot of the books that they are choosing to read. It’s really wonderful, clicking onto the page and seeing David Walliams rubbing shoulders with Charles Dickens, although not quite as fantastic as reading the conversation between a Year 4 boy and a teacher when they were chatting about the books that each of them are currently reading.
So I’m really excited about the next few years as their Patron Of Reading and I think we have some marvellous reading adventures ahead! You can see the blog here.