The Librarian Files: How do we keep our reading buzz going to the end of the year?

By Denisha Polin

by Sharan Kaur

Sharan Kaur, a secondary school librarian, has been using Accelerated Reader and Star Reading for over a decade to help keep students engaged and on track with reading development. 

As the sole librarian in her school, the high-accountability role can be isolating and intense. That’s why we’ve invited Sharan to write a blog series for Renaissance covering a new topic each month: we hope this blog series will give other secondary school librarians practical tips for library reading engagement and tracking strategies. In addition, Sharan hopes this blog will provide some comfort to other school librarians. 

A confident and capable school librarian is integral to all students’ reading development.


Sharan writes:

With the final term upon us; broken up quite nicely too with the Queen’s Jubilee, the end of term is nearly in sight. How do we keep our reading buzz going to the end of the year? 

Well by now, we’ve had 8 months practice at AR. Students are familiar with what their ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) means, they know how to log in and quiz. Teachers know the drill. We’ve all come a long way since September. At this point in the year with all of our training and practice now embedded (hopefully), half of the battle is won and it’s time to introduce a little inter-form rivalry to get teachers (I mean students) to compete.

I convert the class data from the AR diagnostic report into an accessible ‘at a glance’ format for teachers to update classes on and this is also promoted on the shared screens around the school. The figures are then colour coded to demonstrate ranking and there are a number of winning factors that classes have to meet in order to gain 1st place.

Students are aware this is not a race to the top for the class with the most quizzes/reading and in order to be the winning group, it is imperative they have to work together as a team. All students compete with a target relative to their ZPD making the challenge fair and accessible for all.

Winning factors, all of which are available on the AR diagnostic report
  • Highest average accuracy of answers
  • Highest points collected as a percentage of class target
  • Class with the highest minutes worth of engaged reading time
  • Class with the most amount of students who have met 100% of their AR target
  • Class with the lowest amount of students on zero
  • Class that displays the best team work
Feedback is key to motivating students!

Reading group teachers choose to update their class weekly and know who their competitors are and who is effectively holding the group up.

Teachers are the most competitive at things like this, they want to win almost as much as, if not more than, the class taking part. Next year we hope to have a teacher’s reading league; what better way to model reading to your students? The winning form is revealed at the end of the year along with the other end of year school achievements in line with recognising reading achievements as a schoolwide celebration and not just in English or the Library.

Here is the reading league from last year, only the colour coded columns were shared:

Additional ways of promoting success

Our students love hearing and seeing how well they’ve been doing, so we try and promote this wherever we can, such as the school newsletter and the word count gets printed and put on the Library door, but the most effective reach has to be the school screens.

We use the diagnostic report to highlight, per year group, who is close to or over 20 minutes engaged time.



Find out more about how Accelerated Reader can support reading engagement for pupils here.

Missed the last blog from our Librarian Files series? Read about how Sharan ensures there is representation in reading across her school.

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