I shared a study on Twitter from UCL, Institute of Education that found that children who read more, have stronger reading skills. Over the last few days, it has been shared many times by school librarians and teachers, lots linking to the fact that if children had access to books they would be more likely to read them and this should be through a school library. @irinarempt however responded 'do we really need a study to tell us this?" which made me laugh. No, we don't, but when school libraries are fighting against closure it is important that we take every study seriously and use it to help schools understand why they need a school library with a qualified librarian.
The #GreatSchoolLibraries and #studentsNeedSchoolLibraries campaigns are trying to raise awareness about this very issue. Find out more about these campaigns here. Great School Libraries, UK and Students need school libraries, Australia
In light of this, I thought I would write a brief list to remind everyone what our children are entitled to through a school library and why this is so important.
1. Access to good quality, up-to-date books. They are good for literacy, mental health and academic attainment, the stronger the reading skills the better they will do in all subjects.
2. A space where they can feel safe and empowered to make their own choices about what they read. It is important for children to have the opportunity to make their own reading choices as this leads them to continue to read for pleasure.
3. A school librarian. A person who can guide them in their reading, inspire them to try something new and provide opportunities to explore reading beyond the walls of the classroom.
4. Learn research skills, to know and understand misinformation through access to good quality academic online resources and a school librarian guiding them through the forest of information on the internet.
5. Good quality collaboration; where teachers and school librarians work well together. This way the teacher can bring the knowledge base expertise and the librarian can bring the research skills, resources and connections. Teaching was never meant to be a DIY job so if teachers are inviting specialists into the classroom our children will benefit.
However, if the only people who know and understand this are school librarians, the downturn in literacy levels and research skills is only going to get worse. I know headteachers have a tough job, especially with severe budget cuts, but if they are making decisions about getting rid of school libraries and library staff without really understanding what school libraries and librarians do, I feel that we as a society, have a real problem.
After posting this blog I came across this article posted by the School Library Journal from two school administrators highlighting the very real need for us to have advocates beyond school libraries. We need teachers, headteachers, principals, administrators parents and the government to understand the importance of school libraries with professional staff and this article is a brilliant start.
Update October 2022 - I have written many published articles and now run a podcast to increase advocacy for school libraries. These can all be found here on my advocacy page. Please feel free to share anything you might think is useful.
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