Reading City is a Bristol Learning City initiative to get the City reading!
The main purpose of Reading City is
- To mobilise the city in their engagement with life-long reading for pleasure and developing this with its youngest citizens by being a city that reads with its children.
This is a pertinent issue in Bristol. The research shows that book sharing from birth has an impact on later reading achievement, reading for pleasure and social and economic outcomes. In recognition of this Bristol City has made ‘Bristol: a Reading City’ a key priority for 2020 in its One City Plan to 2050 (see bottom of page 26 – red section, Learning and Skills). An increased love of reading today can therefore be seen as an investment in the future generations’ language skills, reading ability, academic achievement and life chances.
The aims are to:
- raise awareness and knowledge among adults about the role, value and importance of reading to and with children
- increase the vocabulary of children
- increase children’s interest and pleasure in reading
- raise attainment in early reading and beyond
The initiative has a layered approach:
Universal efforts for all – including raising the profile of reading through increased visibility of ‘Bristol: a Reading City initiatives’ and a mapping of the wide provision there is currently in the city in particular working in partnership with the cities’ libraries; education services; community groups; business’ and charitable organisations and through celebrating and supporting communities that currently promote a love of reading
Specific and targeted efforts for a few – including targeted provision for the most vulnerable families involving existing community groups, practitioners and linked professionals having an awareness of where book sharing may support their work with families as well as specific new initiatives that seek to promote book engagement.
Whilst this is quite an ambitious vision it is based on the work of Gothenburg who, having identified that fewer parents were reading to their children, established the project ‘Gothenburg, the city where we read to our children’.
What are we doing?
The first step has been to establish ‘Cloakroom Libraries’ (following the Gothenburg model). The aim of cloakroom libraries is to further build on current book provision; to encourage new approaches to family engagement through the use of Parent Reading Ambassadors and to offer a non-threatening and easy way for families to access books in the places they are most likely to visit. Some funding has come from the City Council and local businesses are being asked to fund new Cloakroom Libraries. These pilots are currently being established in some Children’s Centres; City Farms and the Children’s Hospital. The pilots will be in a variety of geographical locations and communities’ so we can measure the impact of this new initiative.
The Bristol Library Service has been involved with the settings supporting the choice of furniture and books. Some books have been provided by the Book Trust. A number of community groups and organisations have pledged support and the University of the West of England and the University of Bristol will be offering support with evaluation and linked research.