One way to do that – and to keep brain cells firing – is to read for pleasure! Reading for pleasure is ‘…an undervalued but highly beneficial practice conferring a range of educative and socio-emotional advantages” (Merga 2021, p.1).
Reading widely and reading for pleasure has a quantifiable effect on student learning. Reading for pleasure is ‘…a more powerful predictor than even parent socioeconomic status and educational attainment’ of cognitive progress and social mobility over time (Wilhelm, 2017). Sometimes in our busy modern curriculum, there is little time allowed for wide reading or reading for pleasure. It has even been argued that the modern curriculum tends to have the effect of committing ‘readicide’. Readicide – a term coined by American teacher and author Kelly Gallagher – is the ‘systematic killing of the love of reading, often exacerbated by the … practices found in schools’ (2009).
As a parent, there are many ways to encourage your children to read for pleasure including:
- Making regular trips to the local library
- Encouraging your student to borrow from our well-resourced college libraries
- Giving books as gifts for celebrations and birthdays
- Scheduling in time for reading – even I have to do this in my busy life!
- Placing limits on screen-time in the evenings and encouraging reading before bed
- Modelling reading – make time for your family to all quietly read on a Saturday afternoon
- And lastly – wonderful bookseller Fiona Stager (of Avid Reader in West End) says to pay your children to read!
Maybe this is worth a shot if you are desperate? If you try it, let me know!
Our New Book Clubs
And so, you may ask, what are we doing at ATC to combat “readicide”? Well, to start with, we have two beautiful, well-resourced college libraries with excellent and up-to-date collections of fiction and non-fiction books. Our junior school students have weekly library and reading lessons with Mrs Kristy Reynoldson, our fabulous and energetic Junior School Teacher Librarian. We run three Book Clubs – our Year 6 Book Club, our Middle School Book Club, and our Senior School Book Club (otherwise known as “The Woolf Pack”). Middle school English classes are encouraged to come to the library to borrow books for silent reading. We celebrate the “Frequent Flyer” library borrowers with morning teas. We have regular visits from wonderful and engaging authors, including as part of our exciting Literary Festival, and our upcoming Book Week celebrations. Library staff are also always keen to make recommendations, we encourage students to borrow as many books as they like for school holidays, and we are ALWAYS trying to think of new ways to encourage borrowing and reading.
If you and your son are interested in trying something different together to explore and encourage wide reading, you may be interested in one of the new initiatives we are working on – the Year 7 Parent and Child Book Club, which will be launched in Term 3. This Club will meet twice a term on a Wednesday at 6pm. Year 7 parents and boys (we STRONGLY encourage dads and/or significant males to attend) will be given a copy of the set book to read at our first meeting (Wednesday, Term 3, Week 2), and we will meet again in Week 10 to discuss and enjoy some refreshments and activities together. Our first book will be “Lenny’s Book of Everything”, by Karen Foxlee. For more information or to express your interest in joining this Book Club, please email me.
Resources for More Information
If you are interested in some further information about the benefits of reading for pleasure, you might like to click on the links below to access these resources:
• Readicide a book by Kelly Gallagher
• The research work of Dr Margaret Merga, which is freely available online via her ResearchGate account
• The Benefits of Reading for Pleasure by Jeffrey D. Wilhelm
• Why it matters that teens are reading less by Dr Jean Twenge
Enjoy the holidays with a good book!
1. Gallagher, K. (2009). Readicide. Stenhouse Publishers.
2. Merga, M. K., & Ferguson, C. (2021). School librarians supporting students’ reading for pleasure: A job description analysis. Australian Journal of Education, DOI: 10.1177/0004944121991275
3. Wilhelm, J. (2017, October 30). The Benefits of Reading for Pleasure. Edutopia