Whole School Reading

Last week we held our annual Alleyne’s Readers event.  Alleyne’s Readers is the largest club in our school, with every student, staff member and governor being a member.  Once a year we allocate funds to buy every person in our school community a book – over the last few years we have used ‘Mr Stink’ by David Walliams, ‘Wonder’ by R J Palacio, ‘Time Travelling with a Hamster’ by Ross Wellford, and ‘I am Malala’ by Malala Yousafzai.  This year we allowed students a choice from a selection of books by Michael Morporgo based around the theme of conflict.  In the weeks leading up to the event I am always delighted to see students proudly looking after their copy of our chosen book and discussing and reading it during form time.  We believe this event is an important part of our calendar for the following reasons:

-        All staff can show students a love of reading.  We encourage staff to share what they are currently reading with students all year via a sign on their door and discussions in lessons. But this event ensures that we are all reading alongside our students. Whatever subject we teach, whatever our role in the school, we are joining students in sharing and discussing a text that we can all enjoy together.

-        We have a shared reference point for our community.  By all engaging in the same text at the same time, we have a common topic to discuss across our whole school. We can all refer to a particular theme or moment in a particular book, confident that everyone else in our community has also shared this experience. This not only promotes reading but also binds us closer together as a community.

-        We can explore broader themes together.  We choose our texts carefully to allow a wider discussion of issues that link to our community values.  We have explored friendship, cultures and beliefs, conflict, moral dilemmas, poverty, discrimination and bullying through our texts in recent years and this has helped to deepen our understanding as a whole school.

-        Students can enjoy being creative together.  The final event culminates in form groups competing to create a display that illustrates key themes and ideas from the chosen text.  Students are given an extended period of time with their form tutor to produce their display.  It provides a rare opportunity for secondary age students to enjoy being creative and working together on a completely open ended project.  The competitive element leads to some fantastic staff and student creations!

-        We ensure our students own some books.  We believe that there is something special about owning a physical book and through this project we can guarantee that every one of our students will have a bookshelf of at least five excellent texts before they leave our school.  We hope we have chosen books that they will revisit during their lives and share with their families as they grow older.  We also hope our shared reading event goes some way towards instilling a lifelong love of reading in all our students.