The Varndean School library, known as the Reading Room, provides students and staff with a calm, comfortable and welcoming environment.
Great books help you understand, and they help you feel understood. John Green
We foster a love of reading and library usage by offering a diverse range of books and resources to suit all interests and abilities. It is a supervised meeting place and social area for students to read, work or relax with friends during break and lunch-time, and students are encouraged to take an active role through volunteering as Student Librarians.
The Reading Room also supports and promotes a love of reading through regular whole school Drop Everything And Read sessions.
The Reading Room is a purpose-designed, eco-friendly space. It includes a smartboard-equipped classroom area, individual tables for small groups, a comfortable soft-seating area and, of course, books, books and more books. There are 10 fixed computer workstations for student use, as well as printing, photocopying and scanning facilities. The lighting and space make it an ideal venue for displaying student artwork and outstanding coursework.
The Reading Room is available to support the curriculum and subject departments across the school in a variety of ways:
providing a range of new fiction, keeping up with trends in young adult fiction and being an available safe space where students can find answers to nearly any question;
accommodation for intervention groups;
encourage students to be independent learners when they are here carrying out research;
book boxes to directly support classroom learning;
a bookable space for exclusive or shared use;
oversee the running of a literacy-based event for any department.
I read for pleasure and that is the moment I learn the most. Margaret Atwood
The Reading Room also hosts its own events, including:
The Inter-school Spelling Bee competition, very popular with students
Varndean’s own Artists Open House, every May, during the Brighton Festival. We provide one of the largest galleries in the Fiveways area for this highly popular element of the Brighton Festival
Author visits - recent guests have included Bali Rai and Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell.
Have a look round the beautiful Reading Room for yourself with our virtual tour. You can also see a breakdown of and FAQs about reading and the Reading Room at Varndean School below.
Accessit is the school's library catalogue, which you can use to search our books and resources. You can renew and reserve books, create reading lists, write reviews, see what is popular, get recommendations of what to read next and search specially selected websites for information - ideal for prep research!
Accessit is available via internet browser, so you have access to your school library wherever you go via smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop! You can use your existing school email address and password to log in by clicking "Login via SSO".
All Year 7 and 8 students are enrolled in the Accelerated Reader programme. Students will have one library lesson a fortnight, to help increase their enjoyment of and engagement with reading.
What is Accelerated Reader?
Accelerated Reader is a software tool that assesses a student's reading level, suggests titles of books at that level, and then assesses whether a pupil has completed reading the book by asking a series of questions. The software then gives immediate feedback to pupils on their success. The Accelerated Reader programme has proved to be very successful in developing students' reading skills and raising standards in literacy.
What will your child do?
Each student will begin by taking a diagnostic STAR reading test which will give them a Reading Age and Book Level to guide them to text suited to their abilities. They will then choose, read, answer questions on and reflect on their book.
What are the benefits of this programme?
The principle behind this programme is to promote a lifelong love of reading in every student, regardless of aptitude or ability. It is designed to do the following:
Make essential reading practice more effective for every student, motivating students to read, and enjoy their reading, through discussion and reflection on their reading;
Personalise reading practice to each student's current level and assess students' reading skills through fun quizzes, allowing teachers to set specific, personalised targets to monitor and maintain progress;
Encourage readers through immediate outcome response, clear success indicators and rewards;
Encourage engagement with texts and retention of learning;
Allow time for students to develop their focus and concentration and improve their reading skills;
Accelerate reading growth (progress) by a whole year.
What can you do to support your child?
Parents can log on to Accelerated Reader Home Connect to view their child’s quiz results, monitor their progress and find guidance on suitable books to read.
My child prefers non-fiction to fiction. Does this matter?
No, there are many non-fiction books in the library which are part of the scheme and were chosen to complement what your child is studying in other curricular areas. Encourage your child to take out books linked to a current topic being studied in another subject. They can then take a quiz on this book during their English lesson.
My child is a reluctant reader. What can I do? Take an interest in what your child is reading. Make sure you have lots of books and magazines around the house and show your child how to access eBooks. Think about swapping the games console for an e-reader! Try to incorporate whole family ‘reading time’ into the daily routine.
When should I stop reading to my child? Never! Listening to others reading aloud encourages children to read with fluency and expression themselves.
How do I know what level my child is? E-mail Mr Katz, the school's librarian, or get your child to ask when they come to the library.
How do we find a book of the correct level for my child? Let your child check out the AR Bookfinder website. All they’ll need to know is their book level. If they’re in school, they should look at the coloured labels on the spines of the books then match them up with the charts on the wall in the library. Or ask the librarian for help. Find out more.
My daughter says she can’t find a book she likes. What do you suggest? First, ask the librarian which the most popular books are for her age and reading ability. Secondly, log in to Eclipse and click the "Who Next?" link in the bottom left corner of the page. This will give you recommendations based on your borrowing history. With thousands of books to choose from, it is very unlikely that there will be nothing of interest to her: it just means she hasn’t found it yet!
Do they have to read books from the school library in order to take the quizzes on the computer? No, there are over 140,000 books in the programme and this is increasing every day as the latest books become ‘quizzable’.
Does it matter if we choose a book of the wrong level? This very much depends if your child is enjoying what he or she is reading! If they are, let them carry on. If you see your child struggling, not getting past the first few pages, it might well be too hard for them. Conversely, they may find some books boring if they are not challenging enough. Be guided rather than restricted by their book level.
How long should my child be reading each day? Ideally a minimum of 20 minutes a day.
How else can parents help? Mainly by ensuring that their children are bringing a reading book into school every day, not just when they have English. Also, remember that reading is an on-going and integral and part of their English and Accelerated Reader homework, whether or not it has been written down in the planner! If in doubt, please contact your child’s English/Accelerated Reader teacher.
We hope that your child finds a great deal of pleasure in participating in the Accelerated Reader programme.