Today’s schools have a vision of creating a community of readers and writers. The emphasis is on enhancing children’s language and reading skills to encourage their creativity and self-expression. Here are some ideas and suggestions to help you establish a thriving writing and reading community in your school:
- Incorporating reading and writing into the curriculum: Teachers can assign reading and writing assignments or activities to students. These exercises are easily integrated into subject curricula, whether in languages, sciences, or social sciences. Students may be assigned tasks such as keeping a reading or writing journal, blogging, and other similar activities. This will enable them to develop and utilize their literary skills.
- Reading and writing space: Designate an area in the school, such as a library, reading nook, or writing centre, where children can access a variety of books, writing materials, and resources. Make it inviting and pleasant so that students will want to spend time there.
- Interaction with professionals: Schools can invite local authors, journalists, poets, bloggers, or other professionals engaged in reading and writing to interact with students and share their experiences. Workshops, seminars, and panel discussions should be held to teach students about various writing genres and strategies. Given such a platform, students learn and are driven to continue their writing adventures.
- Publication in-house: Newsletters and yearbooks: Schools may start publications to provide an in-house platform for students to demonstrate their creative writing abilities. Students are invited to contribute creative writings to these newsletters, which can also be theme-based. Make this an open forum where students will not be judged for their writing style or format. These newsletters can be delivered to the school community in print as well as digitally, and they can also be added to the library collection. This will encourage students to contribute their thoughts, as well as give fledgling writers confidence and appreciation. Allow them to share their thoughts and opinions with a larger audience.
- Other publishing platforms: Students should be acquainted with a variety of alternative publishing opportunities where they can contribute their work for a little or no fee. Online publishing allows you to get articles and books published through sites such as Storyweaver, Bribooks, Pratham Books, Scholastic, Amazon, and others. Local publishers also offer low-cost book publishing services. Schools may collaborate with these publishers to have anthologies of short stories and poems published.
- Engaging students in competitions: Schools must encourage students to participate in reading challenges, writing competitions, and literary festivals conducted in school, at the local, national, and international levels. Mentors should assist students with competition preparation. This allows them to clarify their doubts, focus, and gain confidence in reading and writing. Give them a 30-day reading or writing challenge to encourage consistent practice.
- Promote reading and writing as joyful hobbies: Children should be encouraged to participate in writing activities. It can start with library activities such as book review writing competitions, blurb writing, and so on. Author visits and interactions are an excellent approach to motivating kids to improve their writing skills. Librarians and teachers can serve as mentors or role models for kids by reading aloud to them, recommending books, and sharing their writings with them. This should become standard practice in classrooms.
- Book clubs and creative writing clubs: Book clubs or writing groups can be formed in which students can discuss their favourite books and authors, share writing pieces, and provide peer feedback. Teachers can also assist these groups by providing guided reading instructions and discussions, as well as giving intriguing writing ideas.
- Creative writing programmes: Schools might develop creative writing programmes as part of extracurricular or hobby clubs. Professionals in the area can be recruited to take sessions and assist students who are honing their writing talents.
- Student editorial: A student editorial board should be formed to look after student publications. This team should consist of the chief editor and editors of the primary, secondary, and senior secondary wings. The editorial team would be responsible for planning, developing, editing, and publishing the school’s student newsletters. The team can contribute creative writings to the local press while also encouraging their peers to do so.
- Reading and language tools: Teachers should encourage students to try out new language tools like Grammarly and Ginger to help them improve their writing abilities. They should also be encouraged to read book reviews from newspapers and publishing or book websites. They should make a habit of using thesaurus, dictionaries, and reference tools to keep up and develop their vocabulary.
- Appreciation: Everyone appreciates a pat on the back. The school should recognize and appreciate students’ reading and writing accomplishments. Their creative writings and achievements should be put on display. Their creative work should be published in school magazines as well as digital platforms. Aspiring readers and writers should also be honoured during school assemblies or events.
Remember that building a reading and writing community requires time, constant work, and learning beyond classrooms or academics. We encourage children to become competent readers and writers by employing these strategies and fostering a reading and writing culture. In the institution I currently work at, these strategies have been tried and tested with amazing outcomes. Pam Allyn’s words, “If reading is like breathing in, writing is like breathing out,” are something I believe in.
It is never too late to keep encouraging our students to breathe in reading as much as they can, so they breathe out the finest writings for readers.
The author is the librarian and editorial head at Learning Paths School, Mohali. She is the founder librarian at Learning Paths School and has over 15 years of experience in the profession. She has completed her Masters in Library and Information Science and Public Administration from Panjab University. She is the recipient of the award for the Recognition of Outstanding Excellence by Chandigarh Librarians’ Association. She is a member of the International Association of School Librarianship and School Library Association. She loves reading and enjoys writing as well. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org