Reading for pleasure

A focus of the library is to encourage a love and culture of reading within our student community. Research over a long period of time shows that when students have choice (Free Voluntary Reading) and easy access to books, and involvement in sustained silent reading programs then they have higher levels of literacy development.

“The evidence is overwhelming that reading for pleasure—that is, self-selected recreational reading—is the major source of our ability to read, to write with an acceptable writing style, to develop vocabulary and spelling abilities, and to handle complex grammatical constructions. The evidence holds both for English as a first language and for English as a second and foreign language.” (Krashen, 2011, p. 23).

There are different elements to consider:


Students read more when there is lots of interesting reading material easily available. This includes graphic novels, magazines, newspapers as well as fiction and nonfiction books. “Light reading” is a conduit to heavier reading (Krashen, 1993). The library encourages students to recommend books for the library to buy for the collections; as well as during primary library sessions with ‘short’ book talks on their favourite reads. We all know that we often look to our friends for a ‘next book to read’ 😀

Freedom to read

It follows that students should have access to books where they can self-select for free voluntary reading. 

It is acknowledged that not every book is right for every reader. The library encourages our students to find a ‘good fit’ book. These are books that match both their personal interests and their reading proficiency level which encourages them to read more. This may involve strategies such as using the Five Finger Rule.

The library has different locations including an Easy Read, Picture Books, Junior Fiction and Nonfiction and the High School collection. Labelling also helps students to quickly and easily find books such as with dyslexia-friendly fonts, short stories, graphic novels and senior fiction titles. 

The Shearwater Library Policy also includes a Collection Management Policy which provides criteria for selection and de-selection of resources. Foremost is a commitment to balance perspectives, and stimulate inclusion and diversity. This is done by providing a range of books that consider the varied interests, abilities and maturity levels of the students in the school community.


“A diverse collection should contain content by and about a wide array of people and cultures to authentically reflect a variety of ideas, information, stories, and experiences” (ALA, 2019).

There is the well-accepted concept of mirrors, windows and sliding glass doors. Students should be able to see themselves in the stories they read. These books are mirrors. However, books become windows when they allow them a view of lives and stories different from their own. Finally, “books become sliding glass doors when readers feel transported into the world of the story and when they feel empathy for the characters” (Phillips, 2022). You can listen to Rudine Sims Bishop as she discusses “Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors”. 


Students read more if they have a quiet, comfortable place to read. Krashen sees this as not a luxury but indeed “an important factor for language development” (Krashen, 1993). The library has created separate reading nooks for high school students and the new carpet and furniture have made a huge difference for creating comfortable reading spaces. 

Parent’s Reading:

Parent’s own reading habits can influence their children’s reading development. When children see their parents reading, they get the message that reading is of value to their families. Again research shows that these experiences “ultimately lead young children to future successes in middle and high school” (Arnold, 2018). Reading becomes a social act. 

Reading aloud and storytelling to young children is also important. 

“The research on hearing stories is very strong. Children who hear more stories in their first language, either at home or at school, outperform comparison children in vocabulary, are more aware of how stories are put together (they have better grasp of ‘story grammars’ or text structure), and are better in understanding and producing the grammatical constructions used in academic language (e.g. Blok,1999; Trelease, 2006). Hearing stories and real-alouds also promotes an interest in independent reading.” (Krashen, 1997).

With the school holidays fast approaching, we hope that students and their families will take this time to become lost in words, read and share stories together. Students may borrow books over these short holidays.

Note: References to research quoted here and other articles on reading are available. Contact for more information.

Library Search

Students may search for books from home on the Library Search. The link is found on the school’s website under: Parent Info – Library:!dashboard

World Book Encyclopedia Online 

If you have not as yet explored World Book from home, it is the perfect resource for students to start their research.  The library has subscribed to the Students World Book Online  again this year to support Year 4 – 8 students in their research and personal learning projects (PLP). This can be used from home! Website:

The user login and password is: shearwater

World Book encyclopedia allows students to translate articles to different languages. It includes information, photos, videos, images, charts and citations for students to acknowledge their sources. There is also a dyslexic font and audio feature!