We have done Surprise Summer Reads for a few years now. This involves offering all staff and students the chance to have a book chosen for them, then wrapped an delivered to them on the last day of the Summer term. This means that they will get a book that they wouldn’t normally pick up for themselves, but that whoever has chosen the book thinks that they will enjoy it. They key outcome is that they will read a book from the Academy Library that they will then hopefully be able to recommend to students in the following year, as we all know how powerful it is when teachers/role-models can talk with enthusiasm about books.
In previous years, staff have signed up and then a group of volunteer students have then picked a member of staff from the list and then chosen a book for that member of staff (see a previous post).
This year I decided to vary my approach, and have given all twenty-one staff (except for a few special exceptions who had read it already) who signed up a copy of A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. Firstly, this is one of my absolute favourite books and one that I recommend to anyone and everyone anyway. Secondly, I have a class set that I use in Library lessons, and so many pupils in the school will have read this book too. This means that this year, come September, the conversations that staff will be having with pupils will be about a book that both have read and enjoyed. I think that this will be equally powerful and will hopefully then facilitate further discussion about other books each have enjoyed and, through the common/shared starting point of A Monster Calls, they will then be able to go on to recommend other books to one another too.
Pupils this year also signed up and their books were chosen by my Assistant Librarian and I. For the nineteen pupils from a mixture of years 7-10, we picked out a range of great fiction to challenge and push these keen readers. These pupils will hopefully come back after the summer having read something that they wouldn’t have chosen for themselves that they will then recommend to other pupils, as well as talk about with the teacher who also took part this year too.
I’m very much looking forward to getting the completed postcards from staff and students with their thoughts about the books that have had for the Summer. These will then be displayed in the library, as well as shared via other channels such as the Academy newsletter, plasmas and any other mediums I can get my message out there with.