THE NATIONAL YEAR OF READING
taking place around Australia and online, so people of all
ages, from different backgrounds, can discover and rediscover
the joy of reading.
Nearly half the population struggles without the literacy skills to meet the
most basic demands of everyday life and work. There are 46% of Australians
who can’t read newspapers; follow a recipe; make sense of timetables, or
understand the instructions on a medicine bottle.
Australian libraries and library associations are behind a
campaign to turn 2012 into the National Year of Reading,
linking together all the great things that are already
happening around books, reading and literacy, and giving
them an extra boost, with inspirational programs and events
taking place across the country.
Libraries will be partnering with government, the media, writers, schools,
publishers, booksellers, employers, child care providers, health professionals
and a whole host of other organisations that share our passion for reading.
The UK’s National Year of Reading in 2008 was ‘successful
in starting to shift attitudes to and behaviours around
reading with specific target audiences’:
· 6,000 National Year of Reading events registered on the website
· 2.3 million new public library members
· 12% more children from lower socio-economic groups becoming
library members and 5% more parents from these groups saying
they read with their children every day (20% compared with 15%)
· 23,000 more boys taking part in the Summer Reading Challenge
We are following a similar path of fun, consumer-facing
reading activities, underpinned by evidence, impact and
sustainable practice.The National Year of Reading 2012 will help Australians
increase their reading confidence, literacy, IT literacy,
vocabulary and general knowledge.
· There will be adult stories available as ‘free reads’ for people who
haven’t developed strong literacy skills and are keen to do so, but
find themselves without age-appropriate reading matter.
· Our message will be that it doesn’t matter what you read –
romance and adventure are just as relevant as a classic novel.
Everyone can start their reading journey with content that they
find interesting and engaging. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare.
· The story can be in any format – books, e-books, novellas,
magazines, screen games. And it doesn’t have to be a story.
Non-fiction is fine too, and then there’s poetry, graphic novels,
newspapers, song lyrics.
Vision and strategy for Australia
The National Year of Reading 2012 is about children
learning to read and keen readers finding new sources of
inspiration. It’s about supporting reading initiatives
while respecting the oral tradition of storytelling. It’s
about helping people discover and rediscover the magic
of books. And most of all, it’s about Australians becoming a nation of readers.
Nearly half our population can’t read with any fluency. It’s a shameful
and worrying statistic. So what are the strategies to turn Australia into
a nation of readers and encourage a reading culture in every home?
Strategy 1: Belief in the positive power of reading
There is a massive amount of evidence – scientific, evidence-based and
anecdotal – to show that reading for pleasure is good for us. Beyond
literacy, it contributes to our personal well-being, health, social and
economic outcomes. It even helps with our vocabulary and attention span.
Reading builds relationships in families, with others, and increases our
understanding of ourselves and who we are in relation to others.
Library staff, teachers and other professionals are well-versed in the
benefits but there is not the same depth of understanding in the wider
community. The National Year of Reading provides the opportunity to
change attitudes and behaviours, and embed a reading culture to
benefit current and future generations.
Strategy 2: Accessibility and inspiration
Maybe you can’t read; English isn’t your first language, or you’ve just
never got into books. The National Year of Reading will give people a
taste of what’s out there, in an easily digestible form – not weighty
tomes, but novellas, magazine articles, audio books, e-zines and short
stories; across many different genres; covering diverse cultural
perspectives, and in some cases in languages other than English.
The National Year of Reading will also appeal to book lovers. We want
people who read to try new things and to become advocates for
reading with their peers.
Strategy 3: Good government policy and practice
The National Year of Reading will give all three levels of government –
local, state/territory and federal – the opportunity to showcase best
practice from family literacy initiatives through to reading therapy for
people in aged care facilities.
This campaign provides the opportunity to create a new level of crossgovernment,
cross-council involvement in literacy, which can continue
far beyond 31 December 2012.
Strategy 4: A joined up approach
Australia has a fantastic line-up of reading champions; advocates,
event, campaign and program organisers. The National Year of
Reading is a way of linking all the good things that are already
happening and adding a little extra something to the mix.
Family literacy is a key target for the National Year of
Reading. By giving parents and caregivers the
confidence and skills to share books with their children –
whether or not they themselves are readers – we can
help to break the cycle of disadvantage.
A recent study based on data from 27 countries, including Australia,
found that having books in the home greatly enhanced children’s
educational achievements and this factor had a greater impact on
children from the most disadvantaged families. It was where books
were scarce that each additional book mattered most
Partnerships and programs
The National Year of Reading 2012 is very much a
collaborative activity. We have begun the process of
engagement, but the next 12 months will see many more
The founders and financial partners are:
· Australian Library and Information Association
· Libraries ACT
· Northern Territory Library
· Queensland Public Library Association
· Public Libraries New South Wales (Country)
· Public Libraries New South Wales (Metropolitan)
· Public Libraries South Australia
· Public Libraries Victoria Network
· Public Libraries Western Australia
· State Library of New South Wales
· State Library of Queensland
· State Library of South Australia
· State Library of Tasmania
· State Library of Victoria
· State Library of Western Australia
Supporters include the National Library of Australia; Australian School
Library Association; School Library Association of Victoria.
The National Year of Reading has been prompted by libraries, but its
success depends on wide-ranging partnerships.
The Australian Government has provided $1.3 million for programs
through the Office for the Arts and the Department of Education,
Employment and Workplace Relations WELL funding.
Sydney Myer Fund and the Copyright Agency Ltd have also generously
contributed to the campaign.
Partners include the ABC, Australian Booksellers Association, Australian
Literacy and Numeracy Foundation, Australian Publishers Association,
Speech Pathology Australia, Australian Society of Authors, Centenary of
Canberra, Children’s Book Council of Australia, Indigenous Literacy
Foundation, The Pyjama Foundation, Vision Australia, Writing Australia,
and more are listed on our website – www.love2read.org.au.
While much of the activity will happen through partners
and at a local level, we will be running four national
Campaign 1: The Reading Hour
Both a family commitment and a national event.
Campaign 2: Public library membership drive
We will run a nationwide membership campaign, using the National
Year of Reading to attract people into libraries and to support family
Campaign 3: One Country Reading
Several cities have adopted the One Book One City approach –
Edinburgh with Kidnapped and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; Chicago with To
Kill a Mocking Bird; Dublin, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Brisbane,
The Kingdom Where Nobody Dies.
We are basing our multi-tiered version of the program around a muchloved
Australian children’s book, Alison Lester’s Are We There Yet? We
will develop this theme of travel and places for a junior, young adult
and adult audience, using a variety of different media.
Campaign 4: Workplace literacy
We will be working with major employers to create writer-in-residence
programs, with published outputs. There will be writing workshops for
employees who want to develop their creative skills, and for those who
struggle with reading and writing but welcome the opportunity to tell
their story with the help of an author or illustrator.
Be part of it
The National Year of Reading 2012 is rapidly gathering
momentum. It has already captured the imagination of
the library and book world; there is the prospect of major
media partnerships, and high profile ambassadors are
being approached to put their names to the initiative.
The public launch of the National Year of Reading will be on Tuesday 14
February, 2012. The countdown has already begun.
If you believe in the value of a reading nation, become a partner now.
Contact your local library, visit the website www.love2read.org.au or
email Brenda@thelibraryagency.org.au for more information.
22 August 2011