A slightly different post this, which may be of interest to any readers of this blog who have young children. Getting children into books, and reading in general is one of those constant news stories. At one end of the scale there are the worries about child literacy and at the other we have the debates about what constitutes appropriate reading matter for children of various ages (including the plan to give children's books 'age ratings', something which had leading authors up in arms). It seems to me that there has never been such a fantastic range of reading material for children of all ages and in what seems to be a boom-time for reading in general I was intrigued to be contacted about a new service for parents and schools called My School Book Club.
The idea is simple enough but rather than me re-write a perfectly good summary I hope you won't mind if I quote:
The way it works is that teachers, department heads or school librarians sign up to the scheme and a personalised My School Book Club website is developed for their school free of charge. Pupils and parents are encouraged to start using the site and an impressive 20% of the value of all purchases made through the site is returned to the school to be spent on books for their school library.
For parents, the My School Book Club service offers a quality guarantee in that each and every book has been carefully selected by a panel of children’s authors, publishing professionals and children’s literacy experts. The books are competitively priced, with discounts of up to 50% on the most popular titles, and the ordering and delivery service is simple to use and hassle free. With each purchase made for their child, parents know that they are allowing their school library to make more books available to other pupils. And, unlike some commercial book clubs, there are no minimum purchase requirements.
For children, each school’s My School Book Club website presents an engaging and interactive literary community, with everything from book-related audio and video downloads and related literary links to competitions and access to signed copies from their favourite authors.
In essence, as well as providing a significant stimulus to children’s book sales and a welcome opportunity to supplement each school’s increasingly stretched book procurement budgets, the My School Book Club initiative encourages children to engage with books and reading whilst also helping teachers and parents develop this initial interest as the children grow and their reading-habits change.
My own school libraries were hardly well stocked places of reading inspiration and in fact it wasn't until I left school that I really began reading in earnest so anything that helps promote reading amongst children is worthy of some attention, especially with names like Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Morpurgo behind it. How the selection process works, and who it omits might be something to keep an eye on but children don't necessarily need a website to interact with each other about books, if the whole Harry Potter phenomenon has taught us anything, it is that word of mouth can be a very powerful thing (I'm sure it's taught us all sorts of other things too!).