By: Elmarie Pierce, Reddam House School, South Africa.

No matter where you live, one way to promote reading happiness is by organizing a Literacy Week at your library or school. Elmarie Pierce, one of OverDrive’s international school partners, shares how Reddam House School in Constantia, South Africa celebrates their Literacy Week.

Library Week. Book Week. Literacy Week.

Whatever you call this it, a little careful planning can make this week special and memorable.

For some librarians, it can be one of the highlights of the academic year and for others a stressful week where people expect you to pull several attractive looking rabbits out of a hat. At our school, Reddam House School in South Africa, Literacy Week is one of the highlights of the year for the students. Teachers and the library staff (of course) go all out to remind students how wonderful reading is.

The library runs several different projects each year to promote reading. This year Reddam House ran two competitions, one for the Junior Primary and the other for the Senior Primary students.

Book Collage

The librarian made a collage and hid six famous book characters in the collage for the junior students to find. The library provided hints to make it easier to find them. Because we are a big school and it is not viable to put one poster up for all the students, I scanned the picture in and emailed it to the teachers. They projected the image on the interactive white board in their classrooms and gave a little help completing the forms.

Staff Favourites

For the Senior Primary the librarian took pictures of ten of the staff with their favourite books. Students were given hints and had to connect each teacher with their favourite book. The senior students really enjoyed this activity and we had loads of entries. Multiple winners received book prizes from the library during assembly.

Book Swap

We also ran a book swap in the library. Students from various year groups could hand in an appropriate book to swap. We created book tickets that were given to staff. Students were given a book ticket if they handed in a suitable reading book. They could come as a class and swap with classmates who had also handed in a book.

Poem in Your Pocket

Poem in Your Pocket is another initiative started by the library and is also popular in the United States. Students all have to come with a poem of their choice in their pocket and can be asked at any given time to produce the poem and read it to their classmates or teacher. Some students also read their poems to the whole school over the intercom system.

Reading Buddies

Older students have the opportunity to read to the Junior Primary classes, so there is usually a run on picture books on the day at the library.

Drop Everything and Read

Our Headmistress institutes Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) during this week. At any given time during the day an announcement will be made that it is DEAR time and everybody will drop what they are doing and read for ten minutes.

Community Involvement

We also receive a visit from Hooked on Books, a local theatre company that enacts short snippets out of various books for students. The library makes sure we have at least two copies each of the chosen books for the year, as students run out of the production to ask for the various books. We do the shortest book display of the year on the day, as it takes all of five minutes for all the books to disappear.

Become a Character

Literacy week culminates in a dress-up day where students can come dressed up as their favourite book character.

It is important to make reading a rewarding and exciting experience. Literacy week is an important part of highlighting books and reading, but a successful library must work hard at creating displays, hosting book sales, advertising new stock, and generally making the library an exciting and stimulating environment for students throughout the year.

The biggest compliment any librarian can receive is to hear students are excited to visit the library and use its resources.