Monday, 12 March 2018

Four Things I'm Excited about in 2018: #2 Patron of Reading

#1 Library Llamas
#2 Patron of Reading

During my trip to England last year, I got to meet Jon Biddle, a teacher who helped set up the Patron of Reading scheme.  According to the website, a Patron of Reading is: 
a school's special author, poet, storyteller or illustrator.  The school and the patron develop a relationship over a period of time.  Everything the patron does is related to helping encourage and develop a reading for pleasure culture in the school:  book quizzes, blogs, book recommendations, discussions, plays, poetry bashes, blogs, book trailers and visits.  The possibilities are virtually endless.
 I love the idea of being able to form a deeper relationship with a Patron, and keeping in contact with them in between multiple school visits.  We've only ever had single visits from authors/illustrators in the past, which means, in most cases, one talk with accompanying slides to groups of anywhere from 60-300 children.  I'm not saying that these events aren't worthwhile, they are very inspirational to our students.  However, once I saw what could happen with a Patron of Reading I was very keen to give the idea a go.  Fortunately, I got the support of our DP, so this year our school has it's first Patron of Reading!

The first step was to choose a Patron.  We decided on an author to start with, and I suggested Dawn McMillan.  Dawn visited our school in 2014, and in addition to speaking with our younger students, also ran a writing workshop for our older budding authors.  I like the fact that Dawn has published a number of books, including many educational readers that our students will be familiar with.  But what appealed to me the most was the fact that she relates so well to the students (being an ex-teacher probably helps!) and she seems to be such a positive, enthusiastic person.  I emailed Dawn about the idea, with a link to the Patron of Reading website.  Within hours she had replied, saying that she would love to do it.

Photo courtesy of Dawn McMillan

Our first visit from Dawn is due to take place on 5 April.  We have a number of activities planned, with a focus on Dawn meeting our Year 5 & 6 students in this first visit.  With over 740 students at our school, we didn't want to spread Dawn too thin!  She has agreed to an interview with a few of our Library Llamas for their Youtube Channel, and I'll be taking the opportunity to sit down with her face-to-face and talk about ideas for future visits, including one in May which will be during our Book Week.  We have so many other things that we can do, Dawn herself has already provided me with a nice long list!  I'm so excited about seeing what we can achieve together.

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