The recent report by the Libraries all party parliamentary group came to the conclusion that school libraries and school librarians are a good thing.
I tweeted the following: If you want to raise literacy standards in schools, isn’t a school library and a librarian who knows about books an obvious place to start?
I’ve been surprised at how often that has been retweeted – it seems so blooming obvious to me!
I visit many schools. Some really don’t have a library at all! Some have a few tatty books in the corner. Some have wonderful libraries – usually supported by tireless parents.
I often visit international schools. Many of them physically build the school around the library, which becomes a central hub of learning. I know they have pots of money and dedicated intelligent parents with time on their hands to help out, but I think they show what happens when you take libraries seriously.
These libraries are run by people called Teacher Librarians. Yes, they check books in and out and do all the library stuff, but they also teach about which books are good to read and they teach how to research. They help children to find things out in between and after lessons.
Teacher Librarians know their stuff, they know which books are new, cool and inspiring. They know the right book that will get a particular child reading. They are also whizzes when it comes to researching the internet. They are Librarians – they know how to find stuff out!
Teachers in primary schools have so much going on. They have little spare time to read children’s books to recommend to their children. This is where a dedicated Librarian comes in.
If we are serious about raising literacy standards, I presume that means we want children to be able to read beyond a standard piece of text on a screen – to read anything freely and confidently.
Literacy only comes through hard work and practice. Hard work and practice means reading a lot. A good book makes you want to read – the hard work becomes a pleasure.
If there is no one to recommend brilliant books and inspire children to try new things, how are they ever going to put in the hours to achieve a reasonable level of literacy?
If you have a school librarian, someone to inspire you and keep you interested, then you need the books on hand to read – preferably in the well-stocked school library – the beating heart of the school.