Staff Reading Confessions at Taylor High School

The Scottish Book Trust website is often a source of fantastic ideas for librarians like myself and recently I was inspired by the Author Reading Confessions blog feature. However, my own take on this idea was that teaching and support staff at Taylor High School be interviewed by our pupils about their reading habits. I really felt this was something the whole school could participate in and would be a great project for World Book Day 2015.

My plan was to get our S1/S2 Book Group to interview as many of our staff as possible over a few lunchtimes. I began by introducing the concept to the club, who were all very positive and enthusiastic about it and I followed this up with a whole staff e-mail. A lot of staff wanted to participate and as a result, interviews had to be held over a couple of lunchtimes and during any free time staff had. This was greatly appreciated by the pupils and I! Each week, five teachers/support staff would come to the library at lunchtime to be interviewed. The Book Group were split into smaller teams of two and took notes while interviewing staff. 

Questions asked by the club included:

Do you judge a book by its cover?

What two authors would you invite to dinner?

Where do you stand on spine breaking?

Do you ever mentally edit a book? (I knew this would be popular with teachers!)

Pupils were able to work together, use technology, develop their written and verbal presentation skills and learn interviewing techniques.

However, the group were keen to create their own questions. I was pleasantly surprised when members of our club came to me with a list of questions they had created. Many of the questions were thought provoking indeed. These included:

Have you read a book in a different language?

How many books do you read a month?

How often do you use your public library?

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction books?

The group really made me proud. I began to see what a confidence builder this project had turned out to be and was very pleased at the response of the pupils in preparing for the activity. 

Our Head teacher Mr McCormick commented:

"The library in our school is a really important learning hub. It is the cement that joins together the bricks of learning for a lot of young people. I chose to get involved because I believe reading is a very important part of learning and, in the digital age, I believe it is very important to take every opportunity to emphasise the importance of books and reading for pleasure. Our library in Taylor High School certainly does that!

I enjoyed the interview. I was nervous beforehand since I knew that the questions would cover many aspects of books and reading. I hope that the pupils involved had their interest in books and reading reinforced. I also hope that they will be just a little bit more inclined to pick up that book and read."

A member of our S1/S2 Book Group had this to say:

“It was a fun and enjoyable experience. Many of the answers teachers gave were unexpected.”

A welcome addition to this project was recording our staff being interviewed. (Our teachers were very brave; it’s not something I would be comfortable doing!) These were then edited and I very much hope these will be placed on the school website at a later date.

The same member of the group stated:

“Recording was nerve-racking but positive.”

Pupils were able to work together, use technology, develop their written and verbal presentation skills and learn interviewing techniques (new to many). This was a different, fun and interesting activity and something I would like to incorporate into future library projects.

Our pupils derived great benefits from the experience and it was also inexpensive to run. It was a marvellous project for a school librarian to co-ordinate because the library is at the heart of our community. Simply, our library is the perfect place to discuss and share books and reading.

Many thanks go to all the staff who took part and gave up their time to be part of this special project. I would especially like to thank Willie Richardson for helping with the recording and excellent direction.  

Check out Anna's unique book covers project for more inspiration in bringing different departments together to celebrate and promote reading!

Anna Leslie

Anna Leslie is the School Library Resource Centre Manager at Taylor High School.