Hello Reading Force families! I’m Pam, a proud and happy member of the Reading Force team and my role is Schools Ambassador.
My role is primarily to visit schools to talk to teachers, pastoral staff and parent groups about Reading Force and the support we can offer to Service families. So far this year I have visited schools in Shropshire, Staffordshire, Wiltshire and Hampshire – where next, I wonder?
Visits to schools involve talking to a Headteacher, a Forces Liaison Officer or sometimes a SENCO who has been given school responsibility for work with Service families. I start by giving a bit of background on how Alison Baverstock came to found Reading Force, and move on to describe the ethos and aims of the scheme. This is very straightforward as everyone can understand how enjoyable it is for families to read together, share stories and poems and discover new books. The scrapbooks are key as they act as a permanent keepsake of a particular deployment or training exercise. In other words, by reading together each family can create its own special memories. Brilliant!
Teachers sometimes think of Reading Force as a process that has to be done in school time, but when I explain that the scrapbooks are intended for children to use at home, as a way of spending time as a family and staying close to the parent who is away, they begin to understand that our focus on family reading has real benefits for school achievement too.
I encourage schools to collect in the completed scrapbooks and send them to Reading Force to enter the bi-annual Scrapbook Competition, as it is not always easy for parents to get to a Post Office. This ensures that every child will then receive their certificate and free book for taking part, and will also have their scrapbook returned to them to keep.
Once a school has agreed to take part in Reading Force, we then talk about how best to launch the scrapbooks. Some schools are happy to do this themselves, maybe at a Parent’s Evening or special event such as World Book Day, whereas others invite me back to talk to parents about the scheme. This is great as I can answer any questions, promote local public libraries as a way of borrowing several copies of the same book, and explain the concept of the family reading group.
Some mums and dads think it all has to be very serious, but when I tell them that the group can involve their children’s friends, as well as family members in different areas of the country, they begin to see it as a much more fun and sociable activity. Parents also love the number of ways there are to read and chat together about a book: over the phone, Skype or Facetime, and then postcards, e-blueys, drawings and photos can be stuck in the scrapbooks.
Oh, and in some schools do give form prizes or house points for the most original scrapbooks – why not check if your school is registered to receive Reading Force scrapbooks for families and ask for your free scrapbook. If they are not registered, encourage them to get involved and get in touch. If your school has a significant number of Service children on roll, I may be able to visit. Please let us know and get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Happy reading everyone!