On Tuesday 16th May we welcomed Robert Welton, librarian of the Jane Austen College.
Robert regaled us with the journey that led him where he was today – how he started in Borders as a children’s specialist book seller. He was the first ever national children’s book seller. When Borders closed down, Robert moved to Jarrolds and became part of their events management team, working specifically with children and schools. He was later head-hunted for the job of librarian at Jane Austen College following a chance encounter with the head teacher.
He then moved on to discussing something very important: getting children and young adults to read. Just how do you accomplish such a task?
Robert explained that at Jane Austen College, students are encouraged to be the best they be, whether that is going to university or working in a pub. With this in mind, Robert explained that it is far more important that children are reading rather than what they are reading.
“We have this thing where if they don’t want to read a novel, if they want to read the sports page, if they want to read the Beano, The Dandy, Empire Magazine … if they’re reading the back of a cereal packet every morning, they’re reading something. It doesn’t matter what they’re reading, as long as they’re enjoying it.”
– Robert Welton
Robert went on to explain that they have form periods and thirty minutes of that is dedicated to reading. Students can bring in anything they want and read it – no matter what it is.
“Too many schools have this ‘you will read this and you will enjoy it!’. And what’s the best way to put children off reading? By forcing them to do it … If you keep pushing children to read, they won’t do it.”
– Robert Welton
The evening was capped off with some excellent book recommendations and a slight tangent on the importance of not relying on wikipedia for information.
Overall, everyone greatly enjoyed Robert’s talk. For most, the reading bug caught us young, so it is fantastic to know that there is at least one person out there still working hard to create a new generation of readers.
The NWC would like to thank Robert for his informative talk. Also, a special thanks to everyone who joined us, either as a guest of a member.
We hope to see you again soon!