Buzz's top ten tips!

by Buzz, Spark! School Book Awards

11 July 2023

We believe that our Spark! Awards offer schools a real key to unlock reading for pleasure but, of course, it is the staff in school who make the real difference. Below are our top tips for taking full advantage of what our Awards offer.

School leaders’ engagement is a huge factor - use assemblies to talk about the awards, read extracts, show the videos from authors, etc. 

Encourage staff to read and talk about the shortlisted book in classes - encourage debate and model discussion between staff about the books.

Display books and covers all over the school and quotes from staff and pupils about each one - when you create the impression that everyone is involved, no child wants to be left out.

Make as many books available to children as possible - use any funding you can find (PTA, PPG etc), and of course, apply to the charitable arm that Spark! has set up for schools to nominate disadvantaged children to receive the shortlisted books.

Keep the awards as a regular focus in newsletters home - parents will help maintain interest and a surprising will also read the books.

Encourage pupils to enter the two big Spark! competitions but don’t be restricted by these, hold your own - one school even held a baking competition using the Spark! covers. 

Tweet your school’s interest in the books and remember to tag publishers and especially the authors/illustrators - include comments from the children, you would be surprised how often authors reply and children love their responses.

Make time for the author Q&A sessions - if you attend the live sessions, there is the opportunity for one of your children to ask a question and have your school name checked. Pupils loved this. If you can’t watch them live, recordings are always available.

Create official judges who have their own badges - badges are a cheap and effective way to encourage children to take part - pupils earn them when they have completed the reading, or even after their first book. 

Turn the final vote into a whole school event - a voting day. Use assembly time to announce your school winners and then ensure your whole school comes to the final Spark! online awards ceremony to see if your school’s favourite won. Some schools even had their children dressing up on the day as if it was an Oscars ceremony.