Last updated: 6 March 2013
We are campaigning with other organisations to encourage reading for pleasure in schools, and we need your support and feedback. We are particularly interested in contributions which detail the impact of author visits and the value of presentations to teacher training colleges and/or teacher conferences.
Our Chief Executive, Nicola Solomon (pictured), wrote to Nick Gibb making recommendations regarding school libraries, teacher training and author visits, and to request a meeting to discuss practical strategies to further the Government response to the Henley Review and Ofsted’s Moving English Forward.
Nick Gibb has made a number of supportive public statements regarding the value of school libraries, literacy and reading for pleasure. We welcome his press notice of 7 February 2012 which asserts that ‘…all children [should] develop a real love of books and of reading for pleasure’ and outlines research which identifies the link between reading and attainment. We are also much encouraged by a recent statement in which he said: ‘I passionately believe that every school should have a school library’ (ATL Conference, 3 April).
In our letter to Nick Gibb, we make the following three recommendations:
1. Primary and secondary schools should be required by law to have a school library and a trained librarian/teacher. (While we think dedicated librarians should be compulsory in secondary schools and all but the smallest primary schools, we recognise that librarians are an expensive resource and at the very least a designated teacher should be given specialist training in such schools.)
2. Teachers, in all stages of their careers, should be supported through a range of initiatives (detailed in the letter) to inspire a love of reading for pleasure in their pupils.
3. Schools’ use of author visits and longer residencies should be accredited by Ofsted.
Click here to read the letter in full.
Nick Gibb has responded by inviting us to discuss the points raised at a meeting in October. Please continue to leave your comments so that we can submit these to Nick Gibb at this meeting.
Sarah Waters says:
"How many times does this point have to be made to ministers? Books matter. They inspire, they inform, they delight; they encourage independent thought, invention and empathy. At a time when public libraries are being closed down, and when hard-pressed families have ever less money to spend on books, it is absolutely vital that school libraries are made a priority, and that teachers are given every support in fostering literacy. Nicola Solomon's letter gets it absolutely right. The only way in which we will encourage our children to value reading is by demonstrably valuing it ourselves."
Helena Pielichaty, Chair of our Children's Writers and Illustrators Group, says:
"Study after study has shown how children who read for pleasure achieve significantly more, regardless of background, than those who don't. Those achievements are not just in terms of academic success but include social and emotional behaviour too. It makes sense then, to find as many ways of promoting reading for pleasure as possible. Let's have a library at the heart of every school and books at the heart of every library. Let's nurture generations of story-loving, fact-discovering, poetry-guzzling pupils and let's give teachers the tools and time to do it. I truly believe that if we do, educational standards in the UK will rocket."
We encourage you to circulate details of this letter to interested parties and leave a short comment below if you would like to offer support for this or any future campaign regarding children’s literacy.
We also encourage you to tweet about the campaign using the #readingforpleasure hash tag.
Illustration by Nicola Smee
- Booktrust: 60% of families do not own baby books - The Bookseller
- Society of Authors urges Gibb to make school libraries statutory - Benedicte Page, The Bookseller
- Society of Authors' open letter to Nick Gibb - Louise Chadwick, Head of Public Policy & Research, Booktrust
- Teachers' concern over reading for pleasure - BBC News
- Authors call for 'a library in every school' legislation - The Guardian
- Michaela Morgan: If I ruled the world - Teach Primary
- Non-fiction writers call for libraries - The Guardian
- Non-fiction writers' open letter to The Guardian
Read our July blog and see what SoA staff are doing to help
Please note this page is now closed for comments. If you're a member of the Society, please email Jo McCrum if you have any points you'd like to add.