Background History - A few years ago Tim Redgrave, then the deputy head at Ysgol Esgob Morgan Juniors in St Asaph, Denbighshire, took his Y6 class to St Asaph Library to hear the wonderful Helena Pielichaty give a talk as part of Denbighshire Libraries Book Week. As always, Helena's session went down a storm and she made a huge impression, not only on the children, but also on Tim. He never forgot the impact the visit had and towards the end of 2010, Helena received an email from Tim, now headteacher at the school, telling her that he’d had this idea for promoting and nurturing a love of reading. How about every school having a patron of reading? He wanted to know if Helena thought that it was a good idea and if so, would she be his school’s first patron? Of course Helena said yes.
What is a patron of reading? - A Patron of Reading is children's author that forms a personal attachment to, and works closely with, one school over a period of time (perhaps three years) to raise the profile of reading for pleasure with pupils, staff and parents.
What does a patron of reading do? - There are lots of things that a Patron of Reading can do, and this may vary from author to author, but here's a few suggestions from Tim and Helena...
- Visit the school (at least once a year) to maintain a physical contact.
- Write to the school to share news of books and what's happening.
- Link the school to the author website and have a designated section where children can leave comments or add writing and reviews.
- Send signed copies of books for the school library.
- Encourage individual pupils via email or Skype etc if they've achieved something special relating to reading or writing (made significant progress/won a competition/ been selected for a writing squad etc).
- Work in school with pupils on their own writing as Writer in Residence.
- Give out prizes.
- Encourage school to take part in the Summer Reading Challenge and other book related activities.
- Support staff and parents in new literacy endeavours.
- Share ideas about books to read with staff and pupils.
What does the school do? - This can vary from school to school but here are some suggestions...
- Booked the author for school visits.
- Put a link to the authors website and blog on the school website and in school newsletter.
- Include information about the author on the school website and in the school newsletter.
- Have a display about the author, their writing and their books, in the school library.
- Send stories, poems and pictures that some of the classes have produced (some of these could be put on the authors website).
- Hold a fun book quiz that could include, parents, governors, teachers, teaching assistants and pupils.
- Interact with the author by comments on blogs (parents can interact in this way too).
- Use social networking sites such as Twitter to spread the word about the role of the Patron of Reading.
- Involve the local press to further spread the word of Patrons of Reading and show what the school is doing to encourage reading for pleasure.
For more information - take a look at the Patron of Reading website by clicking here, visit Helena Pielichaty's POR page by clicking here, or visit the POR page on Ysgol Esgob Morgan's website by clicking here.
If you're interested in having me as your Patron of Reading - give me a shout.