How to use #ScotTeenBookPrize to enthuse a class about reading - Inverclyde Academy

Taking part in the Scottish Teenage Book Prize is a fantastic opportunity to promote reading for pleasure. You can choose to take part with a small group of pupils or invite entire classes to take part! In this blog post, Inverclyde Academy librarian Susan Morton explains how she collaborated with the school's English department to get pupils reading and voting.

Inverclyde Academy is taking part in the Scottish Teenage Book Prize project again. After the enthusiasm shown last year by a lunchtime reading group who read and voted for their favourite book, I decided that I’d love to get a whole class involved in order to get even more pupils reading.

It was wonderful to see pupils wanting to read more of the authors’ books afterwards.

I started a reading group when I joined the school in 2016 and thought that the Prize would give us a real focus for our discussions. After they’d read the shortlist and cast their votes, I asked for their feedback:

“I really enjoyed it because it introduced me to books I wouldn’t normally read.” Rachel, aged 13.

 “The books were interesting.” Lee, aged 12.

Pupils loved taking part as a group and enjoyed being able to share their views on the shortlist together. It was wonderful to see them wanting to read more of the authors’ books afterwards. In fact, we have so many new fans of last year’s winner, Claire McFall, that I invited Claire to our school for Book Week Scotland this year. We’re looking forward to her visit in November to help us celebrate books and reading.

For this year’s project, I chose an S2 class. They have regular weekly library visits so it works well with their timetable. Their teacher and I want to focus on making this a fun experience with lots of discussion activities throughout the project. My aim is to form three mini-book groups within the class so that we’re reading, discussing and rotating the three titles, allowing a month for each book. With support from the available resources on the website, there are so many opportunities to get pupils thinking more in-depth about the books and themes.

Pupil voice is very important to us at Inverclyde Academy and it’s fantastic that pupils get to vote for their favourite book

To kick the project off, I invited the class to the library to watch the author videos available on the SBT website. This was a great introduction and certainly generated a lot of interest in the books the pupils will be reading. I think it’s fantastic for them to see the people behind the writing and also get some background on the setting of the books. After viewing the videos together in the library, their class teacher posted the link to the videos on Edmodo so that it was easy for them to watch again in their own time. Pupils are already familiar with using Edmodo at home and it’s a great way to connect with them.

The next step was asking pupils to pick the book they wanted to start with and from this choice we’ll form their book groups. This is where we’ve got to at the moment. At regular intervals, I’ll be inviting groups to the library to discuss their reading. We’ll also be using the poll function on Edmodo as we go along to check in with their views and monitor their progress.

I asked the pupils in the class what they were looking forward to the most as we begin this reading project, they said:

“The book choices look really good. It’s great that young people get to pick the winner.” Innes, aged 13.

“It’ll be interesting because I’ll get to learn about authors I don’t know about and read different genres of books.” Megan, aged 13.

Their class teacher is extremely supportive of the project and together we can encourage pupils to get involved in the competitions. As we’ll have our weekly library visits, there is scope for pupils to get really creative and hopefully produce their own book trailers.

Pupil voice is very important to us at Inverclyde Academy and it’s fantastic that pupils get to vote for their favourite book. In the past, after all the reading is done and all the discussions have taken place, I like to hold an event for pupils to cast their votes. The more of a celebration, the better! This year will be no different and I’ll also invite the local press to highlight the occasion.

I always find it so interesting to see what book they think deserves to win. It’s definitely going be a tough choice this year.

The Scottish Teenage Book Prize is currently running, so get your pupils signed up to read and vote: it's easy, free and quick to register. The Prize is supported by a fantastic activity pack and author videos, and there are also competitions for pupils to create book trailers and graphic novels.

Susan Morton was the winner of our first ever Scottish Book Trust Learning Professional Award for an inspirational educator - check out this page to find out more and watch a video about Susan's amazing work in the school library, and click here to find out how you can nominate someone for upcoming awards.

If you're looking for more ideas to help inspire reading in school, why not check out the rest of our blog posts about creating a reading culture, or have a browse through our resources section?

Susan Morton

Susan Morton is the librarian at Inverclyde Academy.