Ignite wide reading with diverse resources at your school library

Josephine Laretive
Teacher librarian
Moriah College, NSW

School libraries have a vital role in the provision and promotion of quality and diverse reading materials that inform, value and ignite reading. Promoting ‘a reading culture through the active promotion of literature’ (Australian School Library Association, 2004) is one of the ASLA teacher librarian standards. Promotion and access to varied reading materials ‘helps students to engage imaginatively and critically with literature to expand the scope of their experience’ (Australian Curriculum: English v8.3). Encouraging wide reading and access to a variety of reading materials increases students’ interests and motivation to read (Miller, 2012). ‘Numerous research studies prove that wide reading improves children’s comprehension, background knowledge, vocabulary, fluency, and writing’ (Krashen, 2004 as cited in Miller, 2012). Furthermore, literacy development and achievement is benefited by recreational reading and reading for enjoyment (Merga, 2016).

The following resources have made a difference to the diversity of reading resources available to children at my school library, adding to the existing range of imaginative and informative books. The resources that follow also link to the Australian Curriculum in that they provide access to imaginative, informative and persuasive texts in different formats and for different age levels.

Crinkling News: Australian newspaper for young Australians

The Crinkling News newspaper has been very popular at my school library. It is a subscription-based tabloid format newspaper published weekly for children aged between 7 and 14. The Crinkling News website offers some additional features – videos, opinion polls, and comments. Readings.com.au spoke with the editor Saffron Howdon about the importance of media literacy for children.

SCIS no. 1759963 (Online)

Story Box Library: Australian stories read by storytellers

Story Box Library is an online subscription-based resource that contains a collection of Australian literature read engagingly by storytellers. Story Box Library promotes the resource as a ‘reading room’ where books are communicated through film, providing ‘… a vibrant, interactive experience via a diverse range of everyday Australian storytellers’ (storyboxlibrary.com.au). The resource also provides theme details and valuable classroom notes for the stories.

SCIS no. 1659132 (Online)

DK findout!: visual and engaging information, images and videos

DK findout! is a free website that is visually stimulating and contains appealing content for classroom teaching and learning. Information is concise, the page layout is well organised, and the reader is able to click to reveal summaries or listen to a sound recording. This resource is very attractive and provides wonderful opportunities for learning and general interest exploring. I suggest taking a look at the Volcanoes page as it provides an excellent example of the high standard of information and design.

SCIS no. 1729733 (Online)

HistoriCool: a history magazine for children

HistoriCool is a subscription-based history magazine for students, available digitally and in hard copy. The magazine highlights historical events in Australia and worldwide that are relevant to the Australian Curriculum and of high interest to children. The magazine also provides teaching resources related to the content of the magazine and the Australian Curriculum so that lessons can be planned with ease. The magazine allows for excellent opportunities for note-taking and comprehension, is useful for flipped learning, and also gives access to games, activities and quizzes.

SCIS no. 1595901 (Print)

Double Helix magazine: by scientists, for inquisitive minds

Looking for a magazine perfect for STEM and upper primary? Double Helix magazine has what you need. Written by scientists for young inquisitive minds, this magazine is ‘packed with fun, exciting and quality articles … promotes critical thinking and strengthens literacy skills while sparking an interest in science, technology, engineering and maths’ (https://doublehelixshop.csiro.au). Double Helix has also produced engaging online lessons that are well worth a visit. This magazine is published by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

SCIS no. 1754980 (Print)

101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up: an inspiring reading guide

The guide 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up is a handy book to keep at the loans desk to encourage reading and locating books in the library. My school library incorporated it into a reading challenge: ‘Choose a book recommended in 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up and read it’. However, if you promote this book, make sure you update your library. That way, when a student finds a great book they want to read, it will be in the school library – even if they have to put it on reserve because someone got in before them!

SCIS no. 1785769 (Print)

The School Magazine: a resource published for over 100 years

The School Magazine celebrated 100 years in 2016! It is a subscription-based Australian literary magazine for children. The magazine promotes attention to ‘quality [literature] and its ability to engage young readers’ (The School Magazine). There are four magazines: Countdown, for children at the 7–9-year-old reading level; Blastoff, for children at the 9–10-year level; Orbit, for those at the 10–11-year level; and Touchdown, for those at a reading age of 12 years and older.

The School Magazine team also publishes Teaching guides that provide lesson plans and teaching ideas, links to the Australian Curriculum, and worksheets. Magazines could be purchased as a class set for literacy lessons and/or as a reading resource available in the school library.

SCIS no. 1745859 (Online)

National Geographic Kids magazine: just right for the library, with curriculum links

National Geographic Kids magazines are perfect for the school library, as they contain eye-catching photos and interesting information for children. This topical magazine links with various aspects of the Australian Curriculum and with reading for enjoyment, interest and knowledge building.

SCIS no. 1743701 (Print)

Online encyclopedias: Britannica School or World Book Online

Some of you might remember the days of visiting a library to seek out the topic of need in an encyclopedia, or of being lucky enough to have a volume of Funk & Wagnalls (even if out of date by a number of years) to use for your school projects. ‘Up until 30 years ago Encyclopaedia Britannica was widely used as a research resource and was considered an example of trusted, reliable, valid and scholarly source of information’ (Carroll, 2011). Today, students have access to an overwhelming number of websites to access information for research needs. Literature reveals the dominance of internet use among children. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) specifies that one of the five key indications that the internet is of such high use for young people is to ‘find out a piece of information typically using Google search engines’ (ACMA, 2013 as cited by Morgan, 2014, p. 86). However, it is apparent from the literature that ‘many (children) experience difficulties in their web-based information-seeking activities’ (Knight and Mercer, 2017).

Offering students access to a subscription-based online encyclopedia such as World Book Online or Britannica School provides them with authoritative, age-appropriate reading materials for enjoyment and academic purposes.

Britannnica School: SCIS no. 1112072
World Book Online: SCIS no. 1022437

A Literature Companion for Teachers by Lorraine McDonald

Published by the Primary English Teaching Association Australian (PETAA), A Literature Companion for Teachers is an essential resource for teachers and teacher librarians alike. The Companion provides guidance to the significant changes of the Australian Curriculum: English, and it offers both conceptual and practical ideas. I have used this publication as the spark and base of many exciting and successful literacy lessons, and have referred to this guide several times on my blog School Library Owl.

As is beautifully described by Alyson Simpson in the foreword: ‘A companion is someone who travels with you; a guide who has gone before and therefore knows how to prepare you for the journey and what to highlight on the way’ (Simpson, as cited in McDonald, 2013). This is certainly true for the teaching and learning literacy journey I have experienced in recent years, using this book with students in the F–6 context. I also highly recommend having an institutional subscription to PETAA, as it provides outstanding resources for educators.

SCIS no. 1587131 (Print)


Providing access to wide reading material in a range of formats and for a wide range of interests promotes and motivates reading. Four major factors occur when children read: increase of ‘knowledge and understanding of the world; language acquisition and development; creativity and imaginative development; [and] social and emotional development’ (Seven Stories, 2013). A well-resourced school library exposes children to quality and varied reading materials that ignite reading for enjoyment and learning.


Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). Australian Curriculum English v8.5. Retrieved from: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/english/rationale

Australian School Library Association (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. Retrieved from: http://www.asla.org.au/policy/standards.aspx

Carroll, J. (2011). From encyclopaedias to search engines: Technological change and its impact on literacy learning. Literacy Learning: the Middle Years, 19(2), 27-34.

Knight, S. & Mercer, N. (2017). Collaborative epistemic discourse in classroom information-seeking task. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 26(1), 33-50.

McDonald, L. (2013). A Literature Companion for Teachers. Newtown, NSW, Primary English Teachers Association Australia.

Merga, M. (2016). ‘I don’t know if she likes reading’: Are teachers perceived to be keen readers, and how is this determined?. English in Education, 50(3), 255-269. doi:10.1111/eie.12126

Miller, D. (2012). Creating a classroom where readers flourish. Reading Teacher, 66(2), 88-92. doi:10.1002/TRTR.01109

Morgan, A. (2014). Literacy in the digital domain. In Literacy in the Middle Years: Learning from Collaborative Classroom Research. (pp. 74-88). Newtown, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia.

Staff from Seven Stories (2013). Creative engagement with children’s literature. In Waugh, D. & Neaum, S. Beyond Early Reading. (pp. 101-117). [ProQuest Ebook Central] Retrieved from: http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/detail.action?docID=1511027

This article was originally published by Josephine Laretive, and has been republished here with permission. To view the original article, please follow this link.

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