A Patron of Reading is a school’s special designated author, poet, illustrator or storyteller with whom they develop a relationship over a period of time and work to support a school Reading for Pleasure culture. The idea has spread rapidly across the UK, and has even reached New Zealand and the USA, with over 250 patrons in place. As well as all the usual benefits to a school from hosting an author visit, working with a Patron can offer whole lot more.
John Dougherty, author, poet, and now a patron in his second school, said: ‘I always love visiting schools but there’s something different about visiting my Patron of Reading school. I think it’s the sense of connection – even of ownership – that the children feel with me and my work. I can do things that I don’t normally do on school visits – drop-in visits to classrooms for a chat about books; assemblies where we challenge and explore preconceptions about reading; even talk books with parents.’
Author Vashti Hardy added: ‘Being a Patron of Reading builds a wonderful bridge between an author and a school and helps to create a unique relationship for promoting a love of reading.’
Why has the initiative been so successful? Michael Rosen summed it up best at a recent conference when he said it was a grassroots initiative, owned directly by schools and writers and run solely for the benefit of children and young people, in contrast to many ‘top-down’ organisations.
To find out more about the scheme and how it could work in your school, please visit www.patronofreading.co.uk and follow @patronofreading on Twitter.