National Year of Reading – 2012

It’s almost here!

The launch we’ve all been waiting for. Tuesday 14th February is the start of National Year of Reading 2012.

This wonderful initiative has been embraced by libraries and all levels of government right around Australia. Last Tuesday I went to a ‘meet and greet’ for the reading champions in Cairns  – there are 24 of us apparently.The Cairns Library outlined their plans for the year which included a revamp of their website and a host of activities with visiting guests to promote reading.

What’s it all about? The aim is to get people reading – starting from an early age. Here’s a quote from their website at

Nearly half the population struggles without the literacy skills to meet the most basic demands of everyday life and work. There are 46% of Australians who can’t read newspapers; follow a recipe; make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle.

Libraries will be partnering with government, the media, writers, schools, publishers, booksellers, employers, child care providers, health professionals and a whole host of other organisations that share our passion for reading.

Australian libraries and library associations are behind a campaign to turn 2012 into the National Year of Reading, linking together all the great things that are already happening around books, reading and literacy, and giving them an extra boost, with inspirational programs and events taking place across the country.

Sounds like a great plan to me. I was one of those lucky kids who grew up in a family that revered books. In fact we didn’t own a TV until I was twelve… I always had my head stuck in a book, including under the bed clothes if I particularly wanted to finish a story. I took that ability to read and the access to books for granted. Many Australians don’t have that skill and their life is going to be a whole lot more difficult because of it.

The best time to start fostering the reading habit is with children. Some of the other reading champions are members of the Taipans basketball team and the Northern Pride, the local rugby league heroes.(That’s the Northern Pride guys in the photo being interrogated by the  ABC Radio Far North’s Kier Shorey) Many of them are already involved in indigenous literacy programmes and it’s vital that their good work is continued and expanded.

Every time I see a child under juvenile detention being escorted aboard one of my flights I wonder where their life is heading. Giving them literacy, the ability to read, is second only to a belly full of food in helping point them in the right direction.

The celebrations kick off at 10am at Cairns Library on 14th Feb so if you’re around drop by and join in the fun. I’ll be out at the Smithfield library from 3pm to 4pm. At 6pm I’m talking at the Atherton Library as part of the Tablelands Library‘s launch.

So over to you. When was the last time you read your child or grandchild a story? When was the last time you picked up a book for your own enjoyment?

Go on. Do it!

Libraries have changed a bit over the last ten years 🙂


4 thoughts on “National Year of Reading – 2012

  1. Ladies, I was so shocked when I read that statistic that I did my own digging. It seems it is correct and some of the causes range from a migrant population who have never learnt English to those who’ve slipped through the cracks in the education system and all the way to those living in communities where literacy is not valued.

    Sandy, you’re right. The key is being able to ask for help and knowing you won’t be scoffed at.

    Christine, thank you for your volunteer work. I know I’d rather be taught to read by a patient author who reveres the written word than a frustrated teacher who doesn’t want to be there…. Part of the stigma may well be the memory of uninspiring days in the classroom so it’s wonderful to hear there are literacy programmes for adults.

    And as you point out so much information now comes via the printed word on computer, phones and books it must be very hard to function without good reading skills.

  2. A great post, Helene. More people should hear about the literacy levels in this country. I recently signed up with a volunteer organisation in my area called “Literacy Network”, a one-on-one program working with adults who have courageously taken what Sandy so rightly points out is the very difficult first step of asking for help. The figures you quote in your blog post are from a survey done in the last 6 years and they are indeed appalling – and saddening. When you consider the amount of information which comes to us via the printed word, as well as the joy to be found in books, it’s beyond distressing to learn that nearly half the population of this country is missing out.

  3. You’re going to be a busy beaver on Valentine’s Day. 🙂

    I still find it shocking to learn how many adult’s lack literacy skills – and sometimes in important jobs. I don’t know how they stand the stress. Wondering when someone will catch on, what will happen if they do. At least in today’s enlightened environment a lot of large employers (especially the government) will provide assistance. Unfortunately encouraging someone to admit to what some probably consider a social disease can be very difficult. Who can blame them. Unfortunately there’s still a stigma attached to illiteracy (much like depression).

    Go the Taipans and the NP and good luck with your inspirational programmes.

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