James Breakell, UK Managing Director of D-Tech International, looks at the statistics that suggest an alarming decline in the number of teenagers that read for pleasure and how school librarians can use library technology to get their noses back into books.
Statistics from the National Literacy Trust reveal a huge drop in the numbers of teenagers passing their free time reading compared to pre-teens. Only 36% of 14-16-year-old boys and 53% of girls of the same age read for pleasure, yet 72% of boys and 83% of girls in the 8-11 age bracket, are frequently losing themselves in literature. It’s not a lack of good material or availability, and when they can easily access books to read on devices, they can’t even claim it’s old-fashioned, so what can we do to reverse this decline?
The school library may hold the books that we want our teenagers reading, but generating the interest has to be a whole-school, team effort! The librarian can ensure the library is a learning hub for everyone and not the most ‘uncool’ place in the school where only the ‘nerds’ hangout, but subject teachers have their part to play in setting challenges that require research and visits to the library. Make sure your library stocks the latest teen fiction and ‘must-have’ reads, and become a familiar, friendly face around the school.
The school library may hold the books that we want our teenagers reading, but generating the interest has to be a whole-school, team effort!
If resources are limited, look at ways to boost the library budget. Perhaps an after school book and bake sale, where pupils bring in donated books and cakes to sell? Better still, hold a competition for the best ideas for fund-raising. Long-term, look at ways you can make the best use of the budget you have. If books are regularly going missing, you may need to review your library security. You may be pleasantly surprised at the rapid return on investment many security solutions have. Especially when you add up the cost, in time and money, of replacing lost books.
When, according to a House of Commons report, 16 year-olds who choose to read books for pleasure outside of school are more likely to secure managerial or professional jobs in later life, and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) statistics tell us that children who read books often at age 10 and more than once a week at age 16 gain higher results in maths, vocabulary and spelling tests at age 16 than those who read less regularly, it is clear that in order to obtain better results and to help pupils to achieve their personal best, we need to get them reading again.
So, it really is in everyone’s interest to invest in school libraries and make them ‘the place to be’ for teenage pupils. For further information about D-Tech and how our solutions can help your library to run more efficiently, call 01394 420077 or visit d-techinternational.com