Why Read Every Day?

All Year 7 and 8 students are now participating in the Read Every Day (RED) Programs, which are delivered in partnership by the College’s teacher-librarians (TLs) and English teachers. For Year 7 students this program tracks their reading through fortnightly conferences with their teachers and they receive various incentives and rewards; some parents may have even sighted their Year 7’s first certificate for the RED Program in the last week or so. For Year 8s, the RED Program focuses on expanding their reading experiences and uses an online Google Classroom as a digital forum to track their responses to what they are reading. Face to face, reading-focussed discussions with peers, teachers and TLs also form part of this program.

     

        Amy Stewart                                           Will Harvie

The aim of both these programs is to encourage students to read regularly for pleasure, as there is a huge body of research into the benefits of this. For example a 2013 study by the University of London found reading for pleasure during secondary school is even more important to teens’ development as learners than being read to as a baby. A 2015 study by the University of Liverpool found reading for pleasure for just 30 minutes each week results in better sleep, improved mental health, heightened creativity, higher self-esteem, better connections with friends and better sense of empathy. Finally, an Italian study released in April last year found children with easy access to books tend to have higher incomes when they become adults than their counterparts who grow up with few or no books.

With youth unemployment now touching 20 per cent in many regional areas around Australia and the prediction that digital ‘disruption’ will cause up to 40 per cent of jobs to disappear in the next 20 years, leaving school with sound literacy skills is now more important than ever. Being able to read well is the foundation of being able to learn and re-learn, something current students will need to do as a consequence of entering a changing job market that will require them to retrain themselves multiple times, to ensure their skills evolve to meet demand.

Our Year Sevens’ and Year Eights’ Reading Habits   

As we established the RED Programs, the TLs recently gathered data on the reading habits and attitudes of our Year 7 and 8 students across all three campuses. The results of this extensive surveying are reassuring and concerning in equal measure.

For our Year 7s, reading seems to be a bit like eating their vegetables; it’s something they do because they have to rather than want to. While just more than a third of our newest cohort reported that they ‘love’ or ‘like’ reading, for the vast majority (45%) reading is just ‘okay’ and consequently not their first choice in something to do. Sixty per cent of our Year 7s read for pleasure at least every couple of days, and more than 70% read for at least half an hour or more, with action/adventure, humour and crime being the most popular genres. Worryingly, 11% of Year 7 students stated that they never read for pleasure and 20% either ‘don’t like’ or ‘hate’ reading; consequently, almost 12% of our Year 7s have read only one book for pleasure in the past six months, and a further 12% have read none at all.

The results of our Year 8 surveys show as our students get older, their attitude towards reading worsens. At this year level, just over a quarter reported that they ‘love’ or ‘like’ reading, for 42% reading is ‘okay’ and the remaining 29% either ‘don’t like’ or ‘hate’ reading. While almost 40% of our Years 8s stated that they read for pleasure at least every couple of days, enjoying the same genres as the Year 7s, 15% indicated that they ‘never’ read for pleasure. As such, just over 10% of students haven’t read a book by choice in the last six months, and almost 20% have finished just one book in that time.    

Getting Them Reading, Keeping Them Reading

Access to quality reading material is essential to creating enthusiastic readers and 40% of students across the two year levels surveyed indicated that they use the school library to find books of interest. The Library collection provides our students to literally thousands of print, digital and audio texts, written specifically for teens and young adults, covering all abilities and interests. All Year 7-10 students are timetabled into the Library each fortnight during English, to access the collection. The College’s three Libraries are open to all students every day before school, from 12.55pm at lunchtime and after school and regular borrowing is encouraged at all times. 

Family support is critical if we are to develop a positive attitude towards reading among our students. An encouraging result of this surveying was that almost two thirds of our Year 7s and 8s reported that there is someone in their lives who loves to read and encourages them to do so. We would describe that person as their ‘reading hero’ and they play a vital role in that student’s success as a learner.

If you have a child in any Year Level at Padua College, please do as much as you can to encourage them to read regularly; sitting down with a book yourself while your son or daughter reads is a great way to do this. Talk to them about what they’re reading and recommend books you remember from when you were their age. If a new movie of a teen book is released at the cinema, encourage your child to read to book before you take them to see the film as a reward – what better way to prove to them that the book is almost always better than the movie? Join the public library (it’s free!) to expand your child’s access to books beyond what’s at school and home, and take your son or daughter to bookshops to spend their birthday money. Aim to make reading part of your family routine, for the many learning and life benefits it brings.

Puzzle Time

A few Year 9 boys Harry Ross, Matt Carroll, Jay McCarthy-Rivero, Isaac Thornell and John South completed a Jigsaw at lunchtime.