Browsing Tag

books

Public reading: more please!

7 November 2018

Since phones have taken over it seems to me that people are reading less in public spaces. My children and I flout this at every opportunity. On a trip to the shops all three of them can often be seen trailing behind me, book in hand. (No one has met with calamity yet.) If I know I’ll be wasting time in queues, I’ll stuff my current novel into my bag before I leave home. But then as I stand in a line of people bent over their phones, I often feel almost mournful. Perhaps those either side of me are reading ebooks, but their scrolling fingers suggest otherwise. And I wonder, are we losing the art of reading? Are people reading less? Are we so spending so much time on social media that we are no longer taking time for deep reading?

A 2016 Nielsen report puts average media consumption (social media, TV, radio and all electronic devices) at 10 hours a day. How is there time for anything else? And in 2016, a National Endowment for the Arts survey found that only 43 per cent of American adults had read ‘a work of literature’ for pleasure in the previous year. That stat depresses the hell out of me. More than half the country hadn’t read even one book in a whole year. That’s 163 million people who didn’t pick up a book for pleasure.

Anecdotally, the word from my children about their classmates’ lack of interest in recreational reading doesn’t paint a rosier picture. Last week Miss 15 reported that her English class complained volubly about a Roald Dahl short story they were asked to read. It was too long, they all said. Miss 15 rolled her eyes as she recounted this. It was 10 pages. Continue Reading…

An airport ottoman made for reading.

It worries me, this state of affairs. Not just because I’m a writer and editor, but because we need to be growing imaginative thinkers. Reading gives us space and time for reflection. Books are places where ideas germinate, where empathy is built, where questions are asked, and popular narratives are interrogated. In other words, with all the challenges our world is facing right now, we need books more than ever.

So won’t you join me in bringing books into the public arena at every opportunity? Read wherever you find yourself, be it in a queue or on a bus or waiting for a plane. Let’s stop scrolling and instead cram books into every corner of our lives. I’ll wager we’ll all be the better for it.

And maybe, just maybe, we’ll encourage someone else in that queue/bus/airport lounge to put down their phone, and pick up a book.

Chief Minister’s Reading Challenge wraps

11 December 2016

reading-challenge-wrapA celebratory event at the National Library saw the ACT Chief Minister’s Reading Challenge wrap for the year. It was wonderful to see so many students from so many schools in attendance, and for us ambassadors to celebrate our year of working to get kids hooked on books (not that it feels like work!).

And what a year it has been. 2016 was the most successful yet, with 31,000 kids from 90 schools reading at least 15 books between May and September. That’s an increase of an incredible 5,000 students from last year!

The challenge was launched back in 2004 as a way to encourage and develop a love of reading in students from preschool to Year 8. There is no set reading list which, in my view, is part of the program’s strength. I am a firm believer that if we want kids to fall in love with reading, then we need to allow them to choose the books that they are interested in. So the students participating can read pretty much anything, including books in languages other than English.

Continue Reading…

One little star read a phenomenal 240 novels during those five months (I feel quite jealous of all those reading hours!). He traced the spines of every book on a long sheet of paper, and it turns out that he read a whopping 4.8 metres worth of books! I’m betting he cracks five metres next year.

It’s been an honour and a pleasure to be an ambassador for the challenge alongside Virginia Hausengger, Tracey Hawkins, Jack Heath and Tania McCartney. Yay books!