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Step into a School Library and find yourself

Student studying in a library
Student studying in a library

As a well-established author with over fifty titles written for young people, I’ve visited a huge number of schools within the UK and world-wide. I have engaged with students and school staff at every level and given evidence to the School Inspectorate as a partner in achieving school aims. In addition, being a former professional librarian, and Head of Youth Library Services for a local authority, I have experience and insight into the teaching of information-retrieval skills and the promotion of reading to young people across a wide range.

Our school libraries are vital in supporting the Curriculum throughout the school, including certificate examinations. In addition to the promotion of literacy, literature, knowledge and information-retrieval skills, a professionally delivered library service within a school embeds the joy of reading in our young people - building self- awareness, articulate self-expression, confidence, validating their life and culture - and leads to social and emotional literacy. In the company of their peer group, the pupils have the best opportunity to explore the resources which are absolutely fundamental to their development as mature well-informed citizens of our country and of the world.

Via extension activities: Buddy-Reading schemes, inter-school, and with local primary and nursery schools, book clubs, poetry slams, arranging author visits, taking pupils to Book Festivals, and liaising with key organisations (within the local community and internationally) pupils are exposed to a multitude of experiences which would otherwise be inaccessible to them. Very many children have no contact with any other library service. A library within a school creates equal access to materials for all to support classroom and leisure learning. Modern life has created enormous pressure on families and homes which has impacted on the mental health of our young people. Changes within the education service, particularly regarding COVID- 19, show that the School Library is exceptionally well placed and has the flexibility to adapt to meet the needs of the students.

Documented research states that reading encourages empathy, improves relationships with others, reduces stress and eases the symptoms of depression. It was found that young people who read have increased motivation and develop a more positive attitude. Thus, we guide our young people towards social and emotional competence.

I am passionate about books, about literacy and literature. Stories resonate at the frequency of the human spirit. Words carry freight. They are capable of delivering literal meaning and emotional impact. Reading is the activity that enables you to think and feel at the same time. A book is a life raft to cling to. A book is a friend to turn to, a book is a cave you crawl into, a book is a white-knuckle roller-coaster ride, a book is a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, a book is a delight. You can lose yourself in a book.

But also, crucially, you can find yourself in a book. To encounter themes and characters which resonate with our lives is enormously self-affirming. You experience that chime of recognition and you realise you are not alone in thinking the way you do, or feeling the way you do, or acting the way do, or just... being you.

Other than a professionally staffed school library there is nowhere else able to provide this service at that level.

© Theresa Breslin – March 2021

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