This interview was initially printed in a condensed format in Scholastic Teacher’s Bookshelf, Issue 5, July 2013, and in full text on Scholastic’s website during 2013.
Name: Sandi Bowie
School: Mount Lawley Primary School
How many years have you worked in a library? 12 years
What was your favourite book (or books) as a child and why? As a child, I read anything I could. Every Saturday morning would see me first at the book exchange, then the library to select my books for the following week. My favourite books that I read over and over included anything by Enid Blyton, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Silver Brumby series, Black Stallion series, Anne of Green Gables, Nancy Drew and the Trixie Beldon books.
Can you share your ideas on how best to keep students engaged in reading in your library?
Where possible I try to give students ownership of the library collection. They enjoy being part of selecting books, so it’s not uncommon for students to bring their own books in for me to look at when they are excited about a new author they have found. I’m always talking about books, and I encourage them to recommend their favourite reads to their friends. Because the students know that I read ‘their’ books too they will often visit the library before school or at lunchtime just to talk about their favourite book and sometimes to speculate about what might happen in the next book of an ongoing series.
Which books or activities have your found success with in your library which motivate or encourage students to read?
Each year I run a reading promotion with ‘on the spot’ as well as major prizes.
Last year I ran the Reading Olympics with every student who participated winning a small prize for each event that they completed. Our Gold Medal Year 1 student read under 3,000 pages while the Year 6 Gold Medal reader totalled over 31,000 pages.
This year I am focusing on the West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award. My students love this children’s choice award and actively vote on books on this year’s list as well as nominate books for next year.
What is the best advice you can offer to others to inspire a lifelong love of reading in students?
That each and every reader is equal. Don’t ignore your good readers just because they do read. I feel it is just as important to keep the momentum going and continue to place books which suit their reading interests into the hands of my good readers, as it is to find that right book for a reluctant reader.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us about teaching, learning or reading?
My passion for children’s books inspired me to write my own book, which was published earlier this year. This in turn has taught the students at my school that readers can also be writers.