With National Storytelling Week upon us, there’s never been a better time for governors to turn their attention to the magic of literature. Taking place from Monday, 30th January to Sunday, 5th February, the week represents an opportunity for educators to promote the power of storytelling, improve literacy efforts, and encourage children to discover exciting new stories.

If you’ve ever got lost in a good book, you’ll know about the value of storytelling. As well as fostering a love of reading and learning, literature can teach us about different cultures and expand our imaginative horizons. Reading widely from a young age can also develop children’s empathetic capacities, support healthy emotional development, and improve communication and listening skills.

So, how can schools ensure every child has access to captivating stories that help them learn more about the world? As well as ensuring young people have access to books that suit their age and reading level, schools must ensure these books tell stories reflecting a wide range of experiences and realities.

Until very recently, children’s books have largely overlooked the experiences of people from ethnic minority backgrounds. According to the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education’s (CLPE) latest annual survey, only 4% of children’s books published in 2017 featured an ethnic minority character, depriving many young people of the opportunity to engage with literature reflecting their everyday realities. Although children need to read widely and diversely, we know young people’s enjoyment of literature grows stronger when they see themselves in certain stories.

Fortunately, changing societal attitudes and greater awareness about diversity in education means children’s literature is evolving. The CLPE’s survey reports that 20% of children’s books featured an ethnic minority ethnic character in 2021, demonstrating a marked improvement over the past few years. Of course, schools must ensure young people have access to newly published texts and provide plenty of opportunities for pupils to engage with diverse stories. Governors can support school leaders achieve this goal by asking questions such as:

  • What are the school’s goals regarding the promotion of diverse literature?
  • What are the barriers stopping the school from representing the lives of every pupil?
  • Does the local community have any say in the school’s literature and is this something to be considered?
  • What resources are available to help the school achieve their diverse literacy goals?
  • Do pupils have access to literature from other schools or local resources, such as the local library or the books kept in the classrooms?
  • When the last time was the school reviewed the literature it holds, and how often should they do this?
  • Does the school hold special events for celebrations such as National Storytelling Week or World Book Day? Organisations such as the National Literacy Trust offer plenty of inspiration for schools looking to celebrate storytelling in all its forms.

Passionate about storytelling? Volunteer as a governor today!

As you can see, governors can help ensure schools provide young people with the literature they need to expand their minds. So, if you’re passionate about storytelling, why not register to become a governor today? Our friendly team will support you through the application process.