Twenty-Twenty has been a strange year for pupils in both Pre-Prep and Prep Libraries and it continues in 2021. From March 2020 onwards pupils have been unable to access either of the libraries, or at least have had very limited access.
Even when we had access to the school at the beginning of the Michaelmas term the pupils were unable to visit the library. As the term went on we did open the libraries up a little, and now the children have the option to choose books from certain areas in the Prep Library and from dedicated boxes from Reception to Year 2 in the Pre-Prep Library. We run a “Click and Collect” service for Years 4-8. This can be accessed through the Prep VLE and pupils can search for a book they would like to read and request it. The requested book can be picked up from the Guardhouse the next day. Books can be returned to the Guardhouse in the same way, marked for the attention of Mrs C Hawkins.
We also try to create links between the rest of the school and the Library. Our book displays reflect the curriculum, and any other special days like Roald Dahl Day, Nations Day and Anti-bullying Week. This helps reinforce everything being learned in the classroom and offers up handy book suggestions for our pupils in search of something new.
I wondered how the pupils saw the library and what they got out of it, so I asked Years 4-8 what their favourite part of being in the library was. Here are some of the responses I received:
“Reading Harry Potter”
“My favourite part of being in the library is reading a lot of English books to increase my English knowledge”
“There is space for us to relax and find a good book. There is a large selection of books”.
“I love the comfy sofas and the houses at the end of the library. I really enjoy the cooking and baking books and how the non-fiction and fiction books are separated”
“It is quiet and you can read a book also, you can be a pupil librarian”
Overall the pupils see it as a comfy and quiet place where they can read and reflect. Thankfully, the Library is still a space for relaxing and reading, even with all the changes of global pandemic.
Whilst Storytime Friday in the Pre-Prep has had to be discontinued for the time being, activities are still continuing including; reading stories to the pupils and colouring which relate to the story. To vary it a bit, sheets of ISpy Harry Potter, Unicorns and Dinosaurs and book-related word searches have created a great deal of fun.
Before Covid, activities included programmes where pupils could gain knowledge of how the libraries work. In the Prep, pupils can become Pupil Librarians and in the Pre-Prep, Library Helpers. This teaches pupils how the books are shelved, the difference between fiction and non-fiction books, checking books in and out and assisting other pupils to find books. Certificates are awarded in each case.
The other programme which was introduced involves all Year 4-8 pupils gaining their Library Passport. This was introduced by Ms Wise in 2019 and the aim is for every pupil to obtain a working knowledge of the library and to gain their Library Passport Certificate. Other activities in the library include mindful colouring, jigsaws and audio books – David Walliams is quite popular! I hope all these activities and programmes can be re-introduced soon, in the meantime, we have physically distanced mindful colouring and quiet reading areas for those pupils who want a break from their screens.
As well as the above activities, parents listening to their children read and then reading to their children will also help to create a love of reading and encourage the reluctant reader. Asking lots of questions about the book and what they understand by certain words in the text will enforce the children’s understanding of the written word and the world around them.
Looking forward, I am not sure what the Covid situation will allow us to do but I hope to instill a love of reading into the pupils – especially those reluctant readers. To that end, I would like to end on another pupil quote which, I hope sums up what a library should be about and that is:
“Reading dem books”
Mrs Carolyn Hawkins | Prep Librarian