Join Paul Collins as he continues his post from last week to raise concerns about students' access to great books and library services to encourage a love of reading and literature.
Is it any wonder that children are finding that reading is no longer relevant to them or easily accessible?
Kids love to read when shown a book that suits their interests. A librarian directs kids to the books they love and encourages reading for pleasure. The education system has a high emphasis on testing, but libraries are a testing free zone where they can just choose what they want to read and relax and enjoy the story without question. Although teachers have certain books they read to the class for pleasure (and parents need to be seen reading for pleasure at home, as well) it is the librarians who are subversive. They push the boundaries and encourage kids to do the same with their reading and thinking.
Finally, I’d give weight to the above by pointing to the sales and popularity of the Tree House books, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, and authors such as Roald Dahl and David Walliams. They break all the rules – there is violence and the children get into fights with bullies. They are gross and naughty and the kids ignore adults. But kids can’t get enough of them.
Kids can distinguish between fantasy and reality; they want to escape the confines of the endless rules and regulations. So we need to give them more variety of these kinds of books, rather than less. Give them books that explore these elements on an even deeper level; they are up for it. Forget the sweet stories that don’t challenge them.
And stop censoring reality!
Do your children have access to a school library staffed by qualified professionals? Paul's post highlights a growing downturn in library services. Read on to hear from Holly Godfree and find out about a current campaign to highlight this issue. Consider how you can add to the momentum to bring school library services to the forefront.
This year, the campaign is focusing on developing state/territory-specific goals because each place has a slightly different situation. Many state-level school library associations will be leading the charge around Australia, but Tasmania, NT and the ACT do not currently have state-level organisations. This means that we’re looking for a few passionate individuals to put their hands up to coordinate the campaign in those locations. We’ve got a committed team in Canberra and a local leader in Darwin. Might you be the person to step up for Tassie? Please use the ‘contact us’ page on our website to express your interest. The students of Tasmania need you!
Tune into our Students Need School Libraries YouTube channel, explore the full playlist and watch some of the short films we’ve created to support local community action.
Find out more about School Library Campaign: This is our moment at studentsneedschoollibraries.org.au including direct links to follow us on Twitter, FaceBook and Instagram.
Paul Collins is the publisher at Ford Street Publishing, an independent Melbourne publisher. He also runs Creative Net Speakers’ Agency and is the author of over 140 books for children and young adults.
Holly Godfree is a teacher librarian in Canberra, the campaign coordinator for Students Needs School Libraries