Literature: Grammar school’s ‘Patron of Reading’

Dave Cryer, Patron of Reading at Ripon Grammar School, introduces students to a new book. (S)
Dave Cryer, Patron of Reading at Ripon Grammar School, introduces students to a new book. (S)

Students at Ripon Grammar School have brought books to life in a scheme aimed at encouraging reading for pleasure.

Around 120 students took part in the first project by their new Patron of Reading, Dave Cryer.

The former teacher, who went on to set up his own programme of workshops to promote fiction, is one of 130 Patrons of Reading nationwide working with schools to expand children’s experience of books.

Dave, who has worked with Ripon Grammar School previously on drama and creative writing workshops, presented Year 7 students with three books from the Bookbuzz reading programme range.

After giving a brief synopsis of the books, the students had a short time to pick one and learn a piece of dialogue or a theme from their choice and then perform it in front of their classmates.

“Writers often visit schools to do creative writing sessions with students, so the idea of this is to put the focus on reading and specifically reading for pleasure, rather than just within the curriculum,” explained Dave.

“It combines reading, listening, speaking and drama in an interactive session.

“There is no pressure on students to perform but at Ripon there was very high willingness to take part, which shows a lot of confidence among the students.”

Through Bookbuzz, Year 7 students have the chance to choose a book to keep from a list of suitable titles. They can then share their book between friends, or borrow other titles from the list from the school library.

“The programme is about getting young people out of their comfort zone and learning to choose a book for its content, rather than just on their gut reaction,” said Dave.

“We explore character, plot and theme so they can make an informed choice.”

Sally Dring, literacy co-ordinator at Ripon Grammar School, said: “Dave has been working with our students for a number of years and it’s great that he’s now our official Patron of Reading.

“We give literacy high priority here and having someone to help us encourage students to read for pleasure is very welcome in supporting that.”

Bookbuzz is a reading programme from the Booktrust charity which supports schools to encourage reading for pleasure, independent choice and develop a whole school reading culture. Participating schools give their students the opportunity to choose their own book to keep from a list of 17 titles suitable for 11 to 13-year-olds.