Book Blitz ignites reading for pleasure at St. Mary’s

A group of 24 first year students at St. Mary’s Secondary School, Mallow are spearheading a campaign to promote reading for pleasure. The Book Blitz, launched on World Book Day and taking place during the months of March and April, has caused quite a stir within the school. Everyone in the school community has been invited to participate including management, class teachers and non-teaching staff. The purpose of the project is to allow readers to immerse themselves in the magic of a great story. In the context of the project, teachers are not pressurising Class 1 Rioghnach for homework assignments. Instead, teachers are allowing class time solely for the purpose of reading for pleasure. The girls know it is time to read when the Vice Principal announces on the intercom, “Could the students of Class 1 Rioghnach drop everything and read”.

Under the guidance of Ms. Curtin and Mr. O’Connor, the students in question are allowed choose their own materials to read. Interestingly, they are not being confined to books; they may also read magazines, comics, newspapers and use digital devices such as a Kindle or tablet. The extensively-stocked school library is being used daily during lunch to facilitate reading for pleasure outside of class time. The Meditation Room at St. Mary’s is also being used by the eager first years, keen to read in an environment different to that of a traditional classroom.

In order to raise awareness of the Book Blitz, Class 1 Rioghnach has erected a reading wall in the middle of the school canteen. Here the girls have displayed some of the books they are reading as part of the campaign. Also, the results of a teacher scavenger hunt are displayed on the wall with each teacher’s favourite book as a teenager revealed on a card. Furthermore, they are noting the number of words read since the beginning of the Book Blitz. The initial target was to read one million words, however after only four weeks the target has been comfortably passed. At this point the girls can proudly claim to be word millionaires!

The success of the campaign has resulted in a little bit of jealousy from classes in other years. At least one second year group and one TY group have also decided to launch their own reading for pleasure initiatives. Just what the first years had hoped for. The girls have embraced the campaign because they believe that reading for pleasure will improve their overall performance in school. The more you read, the more words you will have in your personal word bank. As a result, an avid reader is more likely to easily read and understand textbooks/webpages as well as be a strong speller with excellent retention skills. It also helps to develop an understanding of other cultures. But mostly, everyone loves a good story!