School libraries have a vital role in the provision and promotion of quality and diverse reading materials that inform, value and ignite reading. Promoting “a reading culture through the active promotion of literature” (Australian School Library Association, 2004) is one of the ASLA teacher librarian standards. Promotion and access to varied reading materials “helps students to engage imaginatively and critically with literature to expand the scope of their experience” (Australian Curriculum English 8.3). Encouraging wide reading and access to a variety of reading materials increases students interests and motivation to read (Miller, 2012). “Numerous research studies prove that wide reading improves children’s comprehension, background knowledge, vocabulary, fluency, and writing” (Krashen, 2004 as cited in Miller, 2012). Furthermore, literacy development and achievement is benefited by recreational reading and reading for enjoyment (Merga, 2016).
The following resources have made a difference to the diversity of reading resources available to children at my school library adding to the existing range of imaginative and informative books. The resources that follow also link to the Australian Curriculum in that they provide access to imaginative, informative and persuasive texts in different formats and for different age levels.
Crinkling News: Australian Newspaper for Young Australian’s
The Crinkling News newspaper has been very popular at my school library, it is a subscription based tabloid format newspaper published weekly for children aged between 7-14. The Crinkling News website offers some additional features – videos, opinion polls, and comments. Readings.com.au spoke with the editor Saffron Howdon about the importance of media literacy for children.
Story Box Library: Australian Stories read by storytellers
Story Box Library is an online subscription based resource that contains a collection of Australian literature read engagingly by storytellers. Story Box Library promotes the resource as a “reading room” where books are communicated through film providing “…a vibrant, interactive experience via a diverse range of everyday Australian storytellers”(storyboxlibrary.com.au). The resource also provides theme details and valuable classroom notes for the stories.
DK findout! Visual and engaging information, images and videos
DK findout! is a free website that is visually stimulating and contains appealing content for classroom teaching and learning. Information is concise, the page layout is well organised and the reader is able to click to reveal summaries or listen to a sound recording. This resource is very attractive and provides wonderful opportunities for learning and general interest exploring. I suggest taking a look at the Volcanoes page as it provides an excellent example of the high standard of information and design.
Historicool A history magazine for children
Historicool is a subscription based history magazine for students available digitally and in hard-copy. The magazine highlights historical events in Australia and world wide that are relevant to the Australian Curriculum and of high interest to children. The magazine also provides teaching resources related to the content of the magazine and the Australian Curriculum so lessons can be planned with ease. The magazine allows for excellent opportunities for note taking and comprehension, as well as providing for Flipped Learning, it also has access to games, activities and quizzes.
Looking for a magazine perfect for STEM and Upper Primary? Double Helixmagazine has what you need. Written by scientists for young inquisitive minds this magazine is “packed with fun, exciting and quality articles…promotes critical thinking and strengthens literacy skills while sparking an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths” (https://doublehelixshop.csiro.au/). Double Helix has also produced engaging online lessons that are well worth a visit – Double Helix Lessons. This magazine is published by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation – CSIRO.
101 Books to Read before you Grow Up an inspiring reading guide
A handy book to keep at the loans desk to encourage reading and locating books in the Library. This book has been incorporated into a Reading Challenge at my school library ‘Choose a book recommended in the ‘101 Books to Read Before you Grow Up’ and read it’. If you promote this book it is important to make sure you update the library so when a student finds a great book they want to read it is in the school library – even if they have to put it on reserve as someone got in before them!
The School Magazine a resource published for over 100 years
The School Magazine celebrated 100 years in 2016! It is a subscription based Australian literacy magazine for children. The magazine promotes attention to “quality (literature) and its ability to engage young readers.” (The School Magazine). There are four magazines: Countdown: 7-9 year old reading level; Blastoff: 9-10 years; Orbit 10-11; and Touchdown 12 years and older.
The School Magazine also publishes Teaching Guides providing lesson plans and teaching ideas, links to the Australian Curriculum, and worksheets. Magazines could be purchased as a class set for literacy lessons and/or as a reading resource available in the school library.
National Geographic Kids Magazine just right for the library, with curriculum links
The National Geographic Kids magazines are perfect for the school library, they contain eye catching photos and interesting information for children. This topical magazine links with various aspects of the Australian Curriculum as well as reading for enjoyment, interest and knowledge building.
Online Encyclopaedias – Britannica School or World Book Online
Remember the days of visiting the library to seek out the topic of need in the Encyclopaedia or be lucky to have a volume of Funk and Wagnalls (even if out of date by a number of years ) to use for your school projects? “Up until 30 years ago Encyclopaedia Britannica was widely used as a research resource and was considered an example of trusted, reliable, valid and scholarly source of information” (Carroll, 2011). Today students have access to an overwhelming number of websites to access information for research needs. Literature reveals the dominance of Internet use among children, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) specifies that one of the five key indications that the Internet is of such high use for young people is to “find out a piece of information typically using Google search engines” (ACMA, 2013 as cited by Morgan, 2014, p. 86). However, it is apparent from the literature “many (children) experience difficulties in their web-based information-seeking activities” (Knight and Mercer, 2017).
Offering students access and effective navigation and online reading guidance to a subscription based online encyclopaedia such as World Book Online or Britannica School provides students with authoritative, age appropriate reading materials for enjoyment and academic purposes.
A Literature Companion for teachers by Lorraine McDonald
The Primary English Teaching Association Australian (PETAA) published A Literature Companion an essential resource for teachers and teacher librarians alike. The companion provides guidance to the significant changes in the Australian Curriculum: English and offers both conceptual and practical ideas. I personally have used A Literature Companion as a spark and base of many exciting and successful literacy lessons and have referred to this guide several times on this Blog.
As beautifully described by Alyson Simpson in the forward “A companion is someone who travels with you; a guide who has gone before and therefore knows how to prepare you for the journey and what to highlight on the way.” (Simpson, as cited in McDonald, 2013). This is certainly true for the teaching and learning literacy journey I have experienced in recent years using this book with students in the F-6 context. I also highly recommend having an institutional subscription to PETAA as they provide outstanding resources for educators.
* * *
Providing access to wide reading material in a range of formats and for a wide range of interests promotes and motivates reading. Four major factors occur when children read: increase of “knowledge and understanding of the world; language acquisition and development; creativity and imaginative development; (and) social and emotional development” (Seven Stories, 2013). A well-resourced school library exposes children to quality and varied reading materials that ignite reading for enjoyment and learning.
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (n.d). Australian Curriculum English 8.5. Retrieved from: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/english/rationale
Australian School Library Association (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from: http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx
Carroll, J. (2011). From encyclopaedias to search engines: technological chnage and its impact on literacy learning. Literacy Learning: the Middle Years, 19(2), p.27-34
Knight, S., & Mercer, N. (2017). Collaborative epistemic discourse in classroom information-seeking task. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 26(1), 33-50.
McDonald, L. (2013). A Literature companion for teachers. Newtown, NSW, Primary English Teachers Association Australia.
Merga, M. (2016). I don’t know if she likes reading: Are teachers perceived to be keen readers, and how is this determined? English in Education, 50(3), p. 255-269. doi:10.1111/eie.12126
Miller, D. (2012). Creating a Classroom Where Readers Flourish. Reading Teacher, 66(2), 88-92. doi:10.1002/TRTR.01109
Morgan, A. (2014). Literacy in the digital domain. In Literacy in the Middle Years. Learning from Collaborative Classroom Research. (pp. 74-88). Newtown, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia.
Staff from Seven Stories. (2013). Creative engagement with children’s literature. In Waugh, D., & Neaum, S. Beyond Early Reading. (pp.101-117). [ProQuest Ebook Central] Retrieved from: http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/detail.action?docID=1511027