National Year of Reading Launch – Victoria

What an appropriate day to launch the National Year of Reading – Valentine’s Day. Those of us who love reading thought it very apt.

The State Library of Victoria hosted a lovely morning to officially launch the #nyr12.

The morning began with demographer Bernard Salt speaking about literacy. Based on census results, we need to work on literacy with (for example)

  • Migrants
  • People aged 50+
  • Gen Y young men
  • Maryborough
  • Colac
  • Melton

Literacy rates of Australians (dip in graph is good...)

We are our most literate between the ages of 35-45.

Areas in Victoria like Kerang, Inglewood and Wedderburn have very low tertiary education participation, so how do we deliver education to somewhat remote areas like that?

Wyndham and Whittlesea are the fastest growing areas in the continent. Other statistics include:

  • Robinvale 14% indigenous population
  • Dimboola 40% volunteers
  • Melton 13% volunteers

We need to match volunteers up with literacy needs; provide slick, corporate style programs that are attractive to baby boomer volunteers. Now volunteers want kudos.

Primary school literacy programs will be needed in next 10 years as over 50,000 children will be added in 5-9 age group.

In 1931, you were a child until you turned 14, then you were an adult. Age of death was an average of 63 years of age. In 1971 death at 71, teenager from 13-20. In 2011 death 82, adolescent until 30. There has been a postponement of commitment, particularly to marriage. Way of life in our 20s has changed in a generation.

34% teachers in 2006 were aged 50-55. So obviously we need more teachers coming in. Global citizens need a second language, if not a third.

Melbourne football players promote reading

The Premier, Ted Baillieu officially launched the National Year of Reading.

Then the winning book in the Victorian section of Our Story was announced.

Victorian Our Story finalists

Well done those men by Barry Heard is the Victorian winner.

Henk Kraima, an international expert in the promotion of books and reading showed examples of how a culture of reading has been built in the Netherlands.

  • Professionals must work together to make their own performance better.
  • Reading is facing stiff competition from gaming and social media but also these industries have slick advertising.
  • Play it smart if you don’t have the money. How? Work together!
  • All must have the same goal. 
  • Reading is a life skill for well being. It’s in your head and heart. Your motor. Exploit the feeling. 
  • We need to be creative, entertaining and innovative when promoting reading.
He went on to illustrate three examples from the Netherlands:

1. Promote reading aloud.

Everyone supports it. Prime Minister. Royal family. CEO of all big business. All go to visit schools and preschools to read the same book aloud on the same day. Paparazzi and TV crews in schoolyards, reading makes the news. Everyone is Facebooking and Tweeting about it. Dutch parents hear from people that interest them that reading is important. They talk about reading at home. Children ask their parents to read the book to them. Libraries are on on Facebook and Twitter. Same graphics sent out to all stakeholders.

Bookshops sponsor a breakfast for schools and pre-schools on the same day. This is also promoted via Facebook and Twitter. Whole bookshops are set aside temporarily for children. Publisher print a special edition of the chosen book, which is usually the picture book of the year. Publishers provide point of sale materials to bookshops. Bookshops advertise heavily and offer discounts.

  • Authors and illustrators visit schools
  • Schools inform parents
  • Schools host evenings with parents about the value of reading aloud.

Everyone has to find and agree on a date. Then raise awareness. Websites are developed.

They then mobilise aid of others. Companies can give financial support and advertisements. ABN Amro put ads on cash point receipts and bank account statements or online accounts.

2. Book week
For one week everything revolves around books. Everyone who is involved in the promotion of reading does something special. Free train rides for readers; if you buy a book or become a member of library, free travel for a Sunday. Had to put extra trains on. Successful people wrote letter to 15 year old self.

3. One book, one city.

This is done on a national scale. People are encouraged to join libraries and not take them for granted. Libraries give away 700,000 copies of a small Dutch classic book.  Shops sell luxury bound copies and audio books. Published complete book on poster. Used Facebook and Twitter to promote. All students the read book. Made book letters from book title put in library. There were queues to get into libraries. Book Week was promoted on all television and radio stations. Conversations about books were occurring everywhere. The book selected must be at least 20 years old.

It’s all about timing, money and attitude.

One event each month of the year (except December):

  • January read aloud day
  • February poetry
  • March Book week
  • April Children’s jury
  • May YA
  • June month of crime books
  • July/August summer reading
  • September national book fair
  • October children’s book week
  • November Nederland Leest (Netherlands Reads)

We can change the behaviour of people, but we must do it now. Don’t wait for another opportunity.