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Library News: The Importance of Reading…

... and how to encourage reading at home

Encouraging children and young adults to read independently can be challenging. Our students have a number of competing demands, pressures and distractions. Dr Margaret Merga (2023) advocates for the importance of teachers and parents working together to encourage independent reading. She considers two key concepts that hinder this: expired expectations and orphaned responsibilities. Expired expectations are where students believe that once they have learned the mechanics of reading, they are no longer expected to read independently. Orphaned responsibilities is the idea that once students have learned how to read, parents view it as the responsibility of teachers, and teachers view it as the responsibility of parents (Merga, 2023). 

At Concordia College our teachers do expect students to read independently and provide opportunities for students to read for pleasure, but we also know that our parents support and encourage independent reading. However, finding opportunities to make this happen or ways to encourage reluctant or disengaged readers can be difficult.

I know that in my experience as a parent, in my daughter's infancy it was easy to make time to read to her, but the older she got, the harder it got. My long days at work meant long days at OSHC for her. Battling with an over-tired child to read her reader was counter productive. Her reading journey was a little different – many of SA’s children’s authors have watched her grow up and she’s been to more book launches than birthday parties. Occasionally she would read, but it was not her first love, especially during high school. Now, at nearly 21, she is an avid reader (and book hoarder) – stick with it parents, the constant immersion and opportunities we provide do pay off!

Why encourage reading? Some research evidence…
  • “Strongly linked to progress in vocabulary” (Sullivan & Brown, 2015)
  • “Substantial link to progress in mathematics” (Sullivan & Brown, 2015)
  • Increases reading comprehension (Torppa et al., 2020)
  • “better readers are more proficient at accessing information online.” (Merga, 2023)
  • “Science performance is highly affected by students’ reading comprehension” (Neri et al., 2021)
  • Reading develops positive social skills like empathy and perspective taking (Merga,2023)
  • Reading fiction helps people to develop higher levels of empathy. (Mar et al., 2009, p. 420)
  • Reading creates compassionate citizens (Merga, 2023)
  • Reading provides you with relaxation, enjoyment and escape from the things that stress you – it is good for your wellbeing (Clark & Picton, 2020)
  • Reading reduces hyperactivity and attention issues (Mak & Fancourt, 2020)
  • Reading helps you through difficult times in your life (Scholastic, 2019)

Click to view a 'Benefits of Reading' document outlining some of the ways reading benefits different areas on one's health and wellbeing.

Strategies to encourage reading at home…
  • Be seen to read. This is my favourite strategy (excuse)! It gives you a legitimate reason to read a book for your pleasure! Children are more likely to do as we do rather than what we tell them to do.
  • Make time to read as a family.
  • Listen to audiobooks while travelling in the car.
  • Visit public libraries and bookshops together.
  • Have a “reading party” – Each child and adult grabs a book, stay in PJs, have a platter of healthy snacks, stay in bed or on the couch and read together.
  • Read to them at bedtime.
  • Have a set reading time.
  • Encourage “Sneaky reads” e.g. reading while in waiting rooms, bus stops, travelling in the car, etc.
  • Talk to them about the books they are reading. What are they enjoying? What has it made them think, feel or wonder?

National Reading Month

May is National Reading Month and National Get Caught Reading Month.

At Concordia College, we have a number of exciting events to help promote reading.

Award-winning children’s author Tristan Bancks will be our Author-in-Residence on Monday 20 and Tuesday 21 May. He will be presenting author talks to all Year 4-9 students, and teaching creative writing workshops for all Year 7 and 8 students.

Year 6 students will have the opportunity to attend the Luminary Lunch on Friday 31 May, where they will have lunch with children’s authors and illustrators Janeen Brian, Andrew Joyner or Mandy Foot.

St Peters and St John's campuses will be celebrating National Simultaneous Story Time. On Wednesday 22 May, all students will enjoy the story 'Bowerbird Blues' by Aura Parker.

During the month of May, library staff at all three sites will have a camera on hand to catch people reading!

A number of staff across all campuses will be conducting 1-1 reader conferences to continue to get to know their students as readers and support them on their independent reading journey.

Hajnalka Molloy
Learning Resources Manager

Useful Resources

Bal PM and Veltkamp M (2013) ‘How does fiction reading influence empathy? An experimental investigation on the role of emotional transportation.’, 8(1) PloS one, accessed 1 May 2024.

Jackson JN (2008) ‘Reading/Writing Connection’, in Flippo R (ed) Handbook of College Reading and Study Strategy, Routledge.

Mak HW and Fancourt D (2020) ‘Reading for pleasure in childhood and adolescent healthy behaviours: Longitudinal associations using the Millennium Cohort Study.’, Preventive Medicine: An International Journal Devoted to Practice and Theory, 130 accessed 2 May 2024.

Merga MK (2023) Creating a Reading Culture in Primary and Secondary Schools, Facet Publishing, Great Britain.

Neri NC, Guill K & Retelsdorf J (2021) ‘Language in science performance: Do good readers perform better?’, European Journal of Psychology of Education, 36(1) accessed 2 May 2024.

Ritchie SJ, Bates TC & Plomin R (2014) ‘Does Learning to Read Improve Intelligence? A Longitudinal Multivariate Analysis in Identical Twins From Age 7 to 16.’, Child Development, accessed 1 May 2024. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12272

Slater MD, Johnson BK, Cohen J, Comello MLG & Ewoldson DR (2014) ‘Temporarily expanding the boundaries of the self: motivations for entering the story world and implications for narrative effects.’, J. Commun, 64:439-55.

Sullivan A and Brown M (2015) ‘Reading for pleasure and progress in vocabulary and mathematics’, British Educational Research Journal, accessed 2 May 2024.

Wright P (8 August 2023) A must-read: Physical and mental health benefits of reading books, Nuvance Health, accessed 1 May 2024.,promotes%20mental%20and%20emotional%20fitness