A SLIF funded project is helping students in the Borders area get into reading by using graphic novels.

Reading for Resilience targets reluctant readers helping to improve literacy and raise attainment. Based in Eyemouth High School, the project uses graphic novels in a classroom setting and encourages students to create their own.

The project is a partnership initiative between the High School and all of the primary schools in the Eyemouth Cluster area. School Librarian Anne Renstead and English teacher Ruth Alder-Bateman have been visiting feeder primary schools, getting the P6 and P7s invested in the idea of reading comic books. So far primary schools in Ayton, Reston, Coldingham, Cockburnspath and Eyemouth have all received a bundle of exciting titles including some DC comic books, as well as a lesson designed to help them access the books.

Creating a Reading Culture

Books from the Reading for Resilience SLIF projectRuth said: “Increased interest in comic book superheroes, thanks to films like Avengers Endgame, has made this an easy sell.

There is such a wide range of topics covered by graphic novels, that there’s no knowing where this interest could lead. Hopefully the pupils will be hooked in by one book and then want more.”

“The idea originally came from our ‘Books and Banter’ group, who meet every week in the library to discuss books. Now pupils really can’t get enough of these graphic novels.”

The focus of the project is to create a culture of reading from a younger age, which will ultimately increase pupil’s literacy, vocabulary and understanding of story-telling structure.

Looking Ahead

Anne applied for funding through the School Library Improvement Fund which was established in 2017. The fund supports creative and innovative projects within the school library sector and is administered by SLIC on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Through funding staff were able to undertake training on how to use graphic novels in a classroom setting as well as purchase a new range of stock. The scheme has been hugely popular, opening up new avenues to increase interest in reading.

Anne and Ruth now plan on giving pupils the chance to create their own graphic novel and raise awareness of the scheme in classes, liaising with catchment primary schools and organizing a Professional Learning session for teachers in September.

The school actively encourages new learning opportunities for staff and gained an Excellence in Professional Learning Award from the General Teaching Council for Scotland earlier this year.