We all know the importance of reading books. We also know that students are losing the reading habit. Libraries are becoming the least frequented places in schools. As teachers it is up to us to bring about a change. Here are three ways that I came up with to make the library a popular haunt in my school.
First, the books in the library should be sorted and arranged in attractive and aesthetic ways. The front and back covers of the books borrowed most often (in both fiction and non-fiction categories) can be photocopied and put up on the library notice board along with well-written summaries. Information can be given about the author, the publisher; you can also have critics’ assessment of the books put up.
Second, the school library can take initiatives to encourage the reading habit among students. Towards this effort my school joined thousands of other schools all over India in the ‘One Nation Reading Together’ initiative organized by Scholastic (India) Pvt. Ltd. In this initiative, at a special school assembly, the whole school gathered and repeated the Reading Oath, which was written by children’s author Sudha Murthy. After the oath the students had special library classes where they could read books written by Sudha Murthy. Such initiatives taken by schools help the library to gain impetus and momentum in fostering the reading habit.
Third, to further encourage the reading of books, school libraries can consider starting a book reading club. The members of our book reading club were divided into groups. Each group was responsible for reading a literary classic, like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll, or ‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens. Each group for that month focussed on one book, with each club member handling one specific aspect or component of the book. For example, one person can be in charge of the storyline, with its twists and turns, another can be in charge of the main characters and their unique characteristics, etc. The club members met once in two weeks, and at the end of the month, there was an event to showcase what each group has done for the benefit of the other groups. Examples of what can be done include acting out the book (like a play), conducting an in-depth quiz, arranging a summary writing competition, etc.
These activities will encourage critical thinking faculties and the ability to analyze books, to understand and appreciate the plot, characterization, the author’s style, the book’s critical acclaim, etc. When the book reading club was set up in Cambridge School, the staff, particularly the English teachers, were euphoric that the students had developed a keen interest in reading, making it a viable, pedagogical educational tool.
The author works at Cambridge School (K.R. Puram), Bengaluru. She can be reached at [email protected].