How to Create a School-Wide Reading Culture





Creating a school-wide reading culture can help unify a school and direct the school community towards a shared vision. You will find quick and easy ideas that can be implemented by a TL or literacy leader to more challenging activities that would surely excite everyone in your community.



Just a Taste: Create excitement when it comes to reading and the library. Here are some ideas that are simple to apply to get students in your school excited about reading:


Displays: Maximize display space outside of the library to showcase new books, themed books, holiday books, books teachers read when they were young, etc.

Contests: Create contests that will bring kids to the library and excited about reading! Some that I have tried that have been very successful were:

Who Read What? Survey your staff's reading habits as a child. Post pictures of staff members and book covers. Have students match the book to the staff member. Encourage students to get hints from staff members.

Write a Review! Encourage kids to write online reviews (on your OPAC) or
submit reviews of books they have read. Draw a name each month and
announce over the PA the winner.

Create a Bookmark: Encourage students to create a bookmark that will be
printed and distributed school-wide.

Get Caught Reading Poster: Encourage staff and students to take pictures of themselves reading while on holidays. Blow up the pictures and display them in September to start off the year. Select the best ones, write up a reading motto and create posters to put in the library.


Full Meal Deals: These ideas require some collaboration with teachers.

Author Visits: Organize author visits to the school or visits to see authors at festivals or special events. Offer it to the whole student body as a field trip or have one student per class selected. I found out that Rick Riordan was making his one and only Canadian stop in Vancouver. $25 a ticket gave you a copy of The Last Olympian and a chance to see him in person. I had 40 very exciting students and some very appreciative parents make the drive from Coquitlam to west side Vancouver to see Rick Riordan in a packed auditorium. Many of the kids remember it as one of their highlights from middle school.

Reading Parties: Open up the library to classrooms for an afternoon or morning of Free Voluntary Reading with hot cocoa. Organize afternoon reading parties for communities and/or school wide reading parties where students are encouraged to wear their PJs and bring their pillows and stuff animals to tuck into their favourite book.

Scholastic Book Fair. Organize a book fair from Scholastic. Students love touching new books! Instead of just displaying the books, offer book talks to classes to get kids excited about new titles. Plaster posters throughout the school and sse student volunteers to help run the fair.

Room for Dessert: These activities require school-wide buy in from staff and community and such should be attempted when you feel you have full staff buy-in and have an enthusiastic literacy committee to help. The activities need teacher and administration participation to be successful. It also requires many hours of work from the TL or literacy leader in the school.


Battle of the Books: One can approach this as a lone school activity or make it fun and involve other schools in your district. It will also make your job a lot easier. Premise: A trivia game that involve 3-member teams reading 6 books. You can organize a single game knockout style tournament or get complicated and use other tournament setups. This will take many lunch periods, but worth it as students’ enthusiasm of the books will permeate throughout the student body. Announce “battles” over the PA. Organize a pizza party for all participants to watch the final match. Get teachers involved and have them create teams to face off against each other or student teams! In our district, 11 schools were involved last year, which made the selecting of book and organizing of questions much easier. At the district finals, where school teams face off against each other, invite district administrators and school board members to see how TLs collaborate!


One Book/One School: School-wide Read Alouds: This works best in a middle school/junior high school as finding a book to cover the various reading interests is not so complicated. Choose one book that the whole school will read aloud. We do this in the beginning of the year so we try to select a novel that is light but also have positive school themes that teachers can use for teachable moments. In the past we’ve used: Run by Eric Walters, Schooled by Gordon Korman (most popular), and Jolted by Arthur Slade. With your literacy committee, organize activities linked to the book. Ideally, organize an author visit either in person or through SKYPE.

Literacy Conference: This would take months to plan and require lots of support from teachers and administrators. Support from PAC would also be helpful. It is best organized with a literacy committee. Shut down school for a day to celebrate literacy. Have members from within and outside of the community to offer literacy workshops for students. Book a key-note speaker. You can also have teachers offer workshops. Like many conferences we attend, offer a variety of workshops that may appeal to students. Create a system for students to select their workshops. This may be the most complicated task. It is worth all the effort as effort as literacy is highlighted and celebrated.

Discussion: Please share some of your ideas to cultivate a school-wide reading culture!


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School Wide Reading woodwardtrac woodwardtrac 7 241 Apr 7, 2012 by MrsHnatiuk MrsHnatiuk