I met with a head teacher today, to talk through the idea of getting some teachers together who's schools were visited by the Reading Rocket. I wanted to know;
a) If there was any noticeable increase in literate behaviour by the children who came on board the Reading Rocket.
b) Is there any measurable data about the children's literacy that I can use.
c) What did the class/school/individuals, gain from the Reading Rocket visits.
d) Did she think I could get a focus group together to discuss the noticeable effects of the loss of the Reading Rocket.
Her comments on a) was that at this stage, a year on, it is difficult to judge such things, it is too much in retrospect. She suggested that the literate behaviour could be judged on a functioning children's mobile library, by taking a group of children aside and talking to them about books
(eg, how to handle a book, turn the pages, which way up it goes) at the start of the study, and then again at the end of the school year.
In her opinion, the measurable data (b)), would not show up any increase in literacy. Her school in particular have low reading ages, and there was no apparent increase in the general figures during the time of the Reading Rocket.
On the other hand, in answer to c) the children gained a great deal by the children's mobile library visits. Having a large selection of books from which they could make their own choices, without parental interference, was good. The high quality of the condition of the books was very important. Even the books that belonged to school were tattier. A clean, well looked after book is so much nicer to touch. Many of the households where their children originated would not have had a selection of books, if any at all. Many of the children would not have been taken to libraries so not only did they have the benefit of the stock, they also were developing borrowing skills, which would stand them in good stead for life in the future.
As for d), she did not think that a focus group could usefully contribute at this time, because it is so long since the cessation of the service.
So, that is one less job to do.
Perhaps it is not the children/s mobile library itself that increases literacy, but it is another tool to use in the promotion of literacy.