2012 National Year of Reading – ACT Ambassadors announced

Canberrans from all walks of life are already getting excited about 2012’s National Year of Reading – and who could blame them? Libraries ACT recently revealed the ambassadors for the ACT, which includes politicians (Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, Simon Corbell and Kate Lundy), authors (Jackie French, Marion Halligan), people in the media (Louise Maher, Mark Carmody) and a host of sportspeople, including the entirety of the Canberra Roller Derby League who had the following to say:

Any future derby girl or referee worth their skates has to first cut their teeth on 35 pages of essential rules reading before they can even think about hitting the flat track. At CRDL we believe that reading is one of the most enjoyable and essential skills for children and adults to learn, love and embrace.

Ambassadors from the Canberra Roller Derby League with ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher

Ambassadors from the Canberra Roller Derby League with ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher via Libraries ACT on Flickr (for bonus points, pick which Roller Girl is also a librarian!)

I couldn’t have put it better myself. Make sure you check out the full list of national and state ambassadors and get involved with your local community in 2012 to spread the love of reading!

From bad to worse

The UK National Literacy Trust have just put out a report that reveals some worrying statistics.The findings of the report, The gift of reading in 2011 : children and young people’s access to books and attitudes towards reading, note the worrying trend that:

the number of children who do not own a book is increasing. Seven years ago 1 child in 10 did not have a book of their own while today the figure stands at a startling 1 child in 3.

The figure of 1 in 3 UK children without a book of their own equates to approximately 3.8 million children.

The findings of the study suggest a clear linkage between a child’s reading ability and receiving and owning books of their own but, alarmingly,

about a fifth of children [surveyed] said they had never been to a book shop or a library.

I suppose it’s not too surprising given the high number of UK library closures and the current state of the publishing industry, but it certainly is sobering.

The National Literacy Trust is currently raising money to purchase books for disadvantaged (bookless!) children. You can support their efforts by donating online and receiving a lovely children’s book illustrator’s Christmas card in return. You could also buy someone small you know a book for Christmas.

Reading

Australian libraries and library associations have got together to turn 2012 into the National Year of Reading .. We’ll be partnering with government, writers, schools, publishers, booksellers, employers, child care providers, health professionals and a whole host of other organisations that share our passion for reading.

The National Year of reading 2012 project is a very worthwhile cause, but interestingly in the list of stakeholders (above) there is no mention of partnering with any IT company or technology group. This is intriguing as reading and literacy has been fundamentally advanced in the last 15 years or so by technology. 20 or 30 years ago the average young person (outside of school) rarely if ever wrote a single word, not a letter, not a diary, not an article – nothing. Today via mobile phones they will write (and read) on average 30 messages a day. The Internet and its social networking, blogging, chatting etc. etc. also rely on the ability to read the written word. To take part in modern society requires and has attained a fundamentally new level of literacy among the general population as has never been seen before. This form of reading and writing should be celebrated.

We can still value books for their intrinsic worth, but should not forget that it is technology which is driving literacy. Technology allows not only access to the written word, but more importantly it allows for the average person to add their words to the world.

Reading is important, but it is passive, with technology the reader also becomes the writer thus creating an active conversation.

National simultaneous storytime

What will you be doing at 11 o’clock this morning? Does it involve reading about a little white dog?

National siultaneous storytime

Yes, that’s right – today is national simultaneous storytime! All around the country, librarians and community members will be pulling out all the stops to promote reading and literacy in children by simultaneously reading from Bruce Whatley and Rosie Smith’s book “Little white dogs can’t jump“. Join in at a library near you!