How our students have fun in the Exmouth Community College library whilst learning to read for pleasure.

Until the spring of this year it was, in hindsight so easy to keep the Library and all its activities buzzing and prominent throughout the school.

Promoting reading for pleasure has to be one of the best tasks in a School Librarian’s job description and whilst in the past finding time to run author visits, events and competitions was challenging it was worth it for the effect it had on books borrowed and read.

Author Visits

We have been fortunate at Exmouth Community College to host so many wonderful and inspiring author visits. Liaising with various teaching departments really helps to build the anticipation and prepare the students as well as ticking many cross curricular boxes.

For instance, the Art Department was instrumental in getting students to prepare some fabulous display work when Chris Riddell popped in. Giant sized, free standing book covers were created, some students sketched in front of a live audience whilst he spoke and they finished off with homemade cakes decorated with chocolate crayons.

Talking of cake, the Food Tech department made delicious chocolate cakes for Michael Rosen which he devoured whilst reciting “Chocolate Cake” and Design and Technology students built a raised “Noughts and crosses” stage for yes, you guessed it, Malorie Blackman.

Students, in their own time transformed our Main Hall into a Zombie Apocalypse zone for both of Charlie Higson’s visits, we’ve never seen them so keen to complete a piece of homework!

Most students are so enthused and inspired by the authors they meet, the demand for copies of Library books exceeds supply, even when we’ve purchased multiple copies from our mobile bookshop on the day. Details of some other author visits can be found on our webpage.

Next term, in liaison with Budleigh Literature Festival we will be offering virtual author visits where students will have the opportunity to put questions to Juno Dawson, Matt Oldfield, Alex Wheatle, Emma Carroll and Onjali Rauf.

If all the podcasts are watched and clues spotted great prizes will be up for grabs.

Competitions and Prizes

Competitions are an excellent way to increase footfall and always create a buzz in the Library but we were also delighted to receive over 140 entries for our virtual “Eggciting Easter Chocolate Book Challenge.”

Very often we link competitions to our displays which are changed regularly to keep them exciting and topical.

Valentine’s Day is our “Personal Ad’s Lonely Book Characters” competition (you know Depressed Princess in tall tower seeks Prince who can climb hair and accomplish rescue, type thing!)

World Book Day offers many opportunities to promote the Library and it’s the same with Hallowe’en when we run our scary code breaker competition.

Harry Potter Night sees us holding our “Potty Over Potter” Quiz, “Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean Challenge” and Potion and Butter Beer making, to name but a few of the activities.

The Drama department help us annually to produce a presentation on the book we think should win the Carnegie Medal which we then present to other Devon schools at our very own shadowing awards.

We finish off the year with the “12 Days of Christmas” which starts on Dec 1st and over 12 days students complete a daily book challenge to win their height in books.

Our latest display just before lockdown involved celebrating “National Bathroom Reading Month” complete with an actual (unused, ex display) toilet donated from a local B&Q store. We filled it with funny books with the header “Toilet Humour!”

Promotion

Every week during lockdown we have produced a themed Library newsletter entitled “The Shelfie” with recommended topical and themed book lists and websites like VE Day and Black Lives Matter.

This, competitions and book groups, have all been done digitally via Teams, email, and promoted via Social Media. They have taken the format of Wakelets, Padlets and other “lets” we had never heard of until Covid-19.

It is our intention to keep this going, along with our new eBook platform until the Library is once again crowded with students.

Looking towards September we will see how our prospective new Year 7 intake have progressed with their Summer Bingo Reading Challenge. An Amazon Fire Tablet and Kindle can be won.

Then there’s BookBuzz to organize, not quite sure of how we are going to work out an online ordering system, but we have a while to figure that out. Oh, and Roald Dahl Day. Just because our Key Stage 3 students may only be allowed to visit the Library on one specific day a week we don’t think they should miss out on guessing how many Whipple Scrumptious Fizz Whizzing Sweets are in the Jar or guessing the weight of Bruce Bogtrotter’s Chocolate Cake!

For more details on what we’ve done and to see some photos please visit the library page on the Exmouth Community College website.

Have a great summer and keep reading!