The Takeover Challenge is a project established by the Children’s Commisioner in which businesses across England are encouraged to invite young people to take over adult roles for the day which they hope will “puts children and young people into decision-making positions and encourages organisations and businesses to hear their views”. Involvement is often shared on twitter, with the hashtag #TakeoverChallenge giving an insight into the types of roles that have been taken over across the country – a couple of young people even ended up on BBC breakfast news!
Allowing young people to share their opinions is something that we think is super important and we value their input greatly; the pages for young people on the Norfolk public libraries website were revised last year in direct response to feedback given by young people – they felt the website wasn’t great and that a blog would be better- and that young people should be involved with it. They asked, we listened: https://norfolkshelftalk.edublogs.org/
This year, the county is looking at what it offers to young people, such as fun activities that encourage a love of reading, and how we can use the media and social media to engage with them better.
This morning we were joined with two young people involved in this year’s Takeover Challenge – Abby and Jasmyn! They spent some time with Library and Information Service Head of Service, Jennifer Holland and Manager – Schools and Young People’s Library Services, Kirsten Francis in our base at County Hall, learning about what the library service offers and how it’s about more than just borrowing books.
It was a brilliant conversation full of sharing ideas and suggestions for encouraging young people to read more and make the most of their school libraries and public libraries.
Abby and Jasmyn made some great suggestions to encourage everyone working and volunteering in school libraries to be mindful of how important it is to encourage young people’s free reading choices and experimentation without putting them off a book or putting them off going in that will be the basis for an article for the next SLS High Schools newsletter.
We moved on to think about how to use social media to encourage young people to read more and be more – as reading is the out of school hobby that makes THE MOST difference to how good a job you get after school. We talked about how young people often don’t realise what other young people are reading, or even that they do read out of school as it’s something young people often do at home in their own time and don’t tend to talk about.
They were inspired to encourage young people to reflect on how reading makes a “massive difference to everything – not just reading but writing, learning, listening, all your subjects at school and everything you need to do at work and knowing more about other people’s lives and how they feel” also “Reading stories are a really interesting way to find out more about the world, and more about history without having too much of the horror from some things that have happened in the past in books that are written especially for young people” and that there is something for everyone and that “Whatever age you are you can learn so much from reading!”
Abby and Jasmyn liked the idea of using a Reading Agency ‘Reading Hack’ activity – Bookface – to encourage young people to go in to libraries to look at and have fun with books. Norfolk is a pilot for the Reading Hack project and this is one of the first activities that young people have undertaken. They had a good look at all the Young adult books at the SLS base at County Hall and found some books they wanted to read and some they had already read and wanted to recommend to others, then took selfies and pictures of each other and other people, choosing books with covers that looked great in photos!
This means that they have launched a #Bookface campaign that there will be lots of encouragement for other young people to get involved in over the coming months… this is the kind of activity that we call ‘micro-volunteering’ so thanks Abby and Jasmyn!
Before they left, we asked them to put in their own words about what they thought of libraries and reading now that they’ve spent time within the department:
Reading can open up a whole other world of possibilities and experiences that I and I’m sure many other young people never knew were available.
No matter who you are; age, race or ‘social status’, don’t be afraid to read, don’t be afraid of what people will think. Don’t be afraid to make a change!
It’s been a fantastic morning filled with fun, excitement and selfies.
Libraries aren’t just good for reading the books – they can offer groups, books, computers and can help people reconnect.
It’s been so easy to talk to Kirsten and Apryl, it made me realise that there is more to libraries than just ordering books.
I have had a fantastic time this morning working with Jennifer, Kirsten and Apryl!
We took pictures of each other with covers of books covering our faces (#bookface)
Listening to the way they have all spoken about what they do has made me realise how organised and exciting a library is.
This morning has made me change my perspective on reading and that it opens up a new world and can take you on an adventure by just turning pages.
I now think that I will be reading and going to my local library more often.
I have loved ‘taking over’ their jobs and seeing what they do.
I would recommend going to the library and reading to everyone! Even if you don’t think you will enjoy it, just try it!
I have learnt so much about how a library works and I very much enjoyed getting to know Jennifer, Kirsten and Apryl. Thank you for giving me this amazing opportunity!
In Norfolk young people also visited Kings Lynn and the Millenium Library to TakeOver, doing activities like choosing what books we should be buying and putting in our Norfolk libraries!
(We’ll be back next week with our usual Friday reads!)