There are so many factors that can potentially inhibit a child from becoming a reader. In my Hierarchy of Reading I highlighted a good many of these and the things that need to be in place that could help a child discover and continue to improve in reading.
A child’s reading journey can really be seen as a curve as over time with the right nurturing and the correct amount of effort their ability can increase. However, along the way this journey can be hampered as they come off the reading curve. Down to whatever setback that may occur the child may find themselves thrust off the reading curve. This could be down to entering the dreaded yr10 drop in secondary school when work becomes too much, studying texts take the pleasure out of reading and time becomes so limited. It could also be the child who doesn’t ‘get’ phonics. Who reading, instead of being a pleasure they enjoyed on their parents knee, is now a chore that they cannot do. Each of these setbacks signifies a child at a reading crossroads and it is about understanding this and the reason why before you can help put them back onto the reading curve of improvement.
This is the important role that a school library and librarian plays in the vital area of reader development. Many people will question what the use of a school librarian is in school and whether they are really just a fusty old person that stops kids from having fun and keeping warm in the cold weather. This may be the case in some schools and even in places where some school librarians claim to be all knowledgeable and vocal in the librarian world yet unable to actually ‘get ‘ what a school library is but in other places and in other schools there is a band of us librarians that are actually reading specialists. That have the knowledge in our schools that no one else does and that are able to make a real difference in keeping children on that reading curve.
Yes reading can seem very thin sometimes in terms of it being proven that it actually makes a difference to an individual on a day to day basis yet underlying what should be happening in libraries is this fundamental understanding of the child at the reading crossroads. Why are they in the position they are in? What is it that is stopping them from reading? Why have they dropped off the reading curve?
No one else in a school matters to the extend of being able to do something about this. no one else in a school has the capabilities to do something about it yet it is so important of we are to foster reading for pleasure and reading attainment in our schools that this does happen.
At every step and at every setback a library nd librarian should be there to set the child back in the groove of reading. This doesn’t just mean that schools need to put faith in their libraries and their librarians but it also means that school librarians need to do their bit too. They need to be that person tracking and monitoring reading. They need to be the reading specialist in their school can understands the child at a reading crossroads and be able to keep their students on their individual reading curves. They need to make sure they are employing in their schools their own version of Lancaster’s Hierarchy of Reading and that they understand the reading brain and how to make sure they are activating this in their students on a daily basis.
If they can achieve this then the future of our students in regards to reading is safe. If they can keep their students on that reading curve by understanding this then school libraries will grow into one of the most fundamental areas in the school.