Sorry but if I’m going to write about Perth High School and their regular “readaxation lunches” I have to call it perthect! After all, I invented the word “readaxation” so creating a new word wouldn’t be a first.
I know other schools have used the idea of readaxation to promote reading for pleasure and to give students and staff an opportunity to relax while also improving their lives and minds but Perth High School is the only one I’ve heard of to have regular readaxation lunches. I heard about them through Twitter and I’d seen quite a lot of positive feedback around it so I got in touch with the librarian to find out more.
Hazel Burns is the senior library assistant who started the lunches, supported by librarian Helen Burns. Hazel said, “Our readaxation lunches started back in 2019. I was approached by a member of staff from Community Link department asking if I would do a health related event in the school library as part of the Perth High School’s Health Week. I thought it would be good to combine reading for pleasure and the benefits of reading somehow and your readaxation idea inspired me and I was encouraged to give it a go! It all took off from then on. We also wanted to maintain enthusiasm among keen readers and inspire and motivate non-readers at the same time.”
At first, they were more random than regular but then came the pandemic. “Our readaxation lunches have become more important for our pupils and staff well being since the pandemic started. We decided to do [them] monthly instead of now and then.”
The school library is the main venue for the lunches but in 2020, “as part of building and sustaining a whole-school reading culture, staff volunteers began setting up mini readaxation venues throughout the school. We wanted to encourage more staff to be seen reading which will then influence pupils.” Shout out to the wonderful staff volunteers: Kerry Fraser (English teacher), James Snowden (Nurture Worker and Co-ordinator), Karen Park (Inclusion Support Worker) and Ewan Campbell (Maths teacher).
Now Perth High School has been awarded a prestigious Silver Award as part of the Reading Schools accreditation scheme, a Scottish Book Trust scheme which sets very high targets for schools to boost the love of and engagement with all types of reading. Congratulations!
How’s it going?
It’s all very well spending time and resources on setting up these wonderful reading for pleasure sessions but do students and staff enjoy it? What do they gain from it?
The comments say it all! I’ve bolded the words that seem to me explicitly to give relaxation as the reason for enjoyment.
“It was quiet and chilled, and the library was turned into a really relaxing place to sit and bury yourself in a good book to de-stress.”
“How quiet it was so then I could escape all the noise.”
“I was just quiet reading, no talking and shouting.”
“That it was calm and it relieved stress. I read almost 4 chapters!”
“I got to read my book without getting distracted.”
“I liked the lack of noise and the comfortable furniture.”
“It is somewhere I can come to escape the stress of school.”
“I can meet my friends and discover new books.”
“Gives me the chance to relax and enjoy a good book at lunchtime.”
“It is a nice calm environment to get away from all the stress of school and hang out with friends.”
“It’s a place I can go to relax– I feel happy and comfortable here and its my favourite place in the school. It’s my safe place when my anxiety plays up“
“It’s a great space I can escape to. I can escape from any worries I may or may not have. It’s magical – inspires me.”
“When reading, it’s as if I’m teleported into the book!”
“I love promoting reading in the school and it’s great to see pupils who wouldn’t normally spend time in the space.”
“In a world full of phones and screens, reading is a great form of escape.”
“I love that it gives you the chance to sit somewhere quiet and enjoy reading without any distractions. I like being able to eat my lunch in the library while reading too.”
“Reading is the only thing that makes me relax and forget about everything else going on in my life – I can get completely lost in the story.”
I love this idea. I also imagine that once you’ve done it a few times relatively little promotion and organisation is necessary. Students and staff spread the word and I love how everyone in Perth high School seems to know what “readaxation” means. It’s just become a word they know and use.
Readaxation is “the deliberate act of reading as a stress-reducing activity, boosting well-being and therefore performance.” The word “therefore” is very important because adults and young people need to understand that we do better when we feel better. If you feel bad, you can’t do your best. So reducing stress is not a nice-to-have: it’s necessary if you want to come anywhere near achieving the kind of life and success you want, whether that success is academic, personal, sporting, creative or anything at all.
Congratulations to Perth High School for such a great scheme!
Here are some free resources for schools or families wanting to promote reading for pleasure and readaxation: R4P resources
What are you reading this lunchtime? I’m reading The Dangerous Kingdom of Love by Neil Blackmore. I find historical fiction is the best at removing me from the annoying, stressful real world and taking me into another.