Australian Reading Hour set for September
The Managing Director of Hachette Australia, Louise Sherwin-Stark (pictured), officially launched Australian Reading Hour at the ABIA Awards on 25 May. Here’s an extract from her speech:
The Australian Reading Hour will take place on Thursday 14 September. This first cross-industry reading campaign is supported by the Australian Society of Authors, the Australian Publishers Association, the Australian Booksellers Association, the Australian Library and Information Association and the Copyright Agency.
It takes just one look at the bestseller charts to confirm that Australian readers are hungry for Australian stories, so we will be celebrating Australian storytelling, books and authors. We are recruiting two author ambassadors for high profile media to promote The Australian Reading Hour and organising author appearances and reading events around the country.
The Australian Publishers Association has just completed an academic literature review on the importance of reading. We have all heard that reading for pleasure is the most important indicator of the future success of a child, more important even than their family’s socioeconomic status, but did you know that:
- Children who know adults who read for pleasure take it for granted that reading is valuable.
- Reading is closely linked to increasing our understanding of our own identities.
- When tested for empathy, readers of narrative fiction achieved significantly higher scores than other groups.
- Reading a gripping novel causes positive biological changes in the brain that can last for days.
- The more leisure books people read, the more literate they become and the more prosperous and equitable the society they inhabit.
- And my favourite, reading reduces stress by 68 per cent, relieving stress more quickly than listening to music, going for a walk or having a cup of tea.
On the flipside, research suggests that children are reading less, and what they are reading is changing to include text messages, websites, emails and social media.
Why an hour? This cross-industry promotion is based on The Reading Hour which has been running successfully through nearly 200 libraries over the last few years. Librarians have found that readers engaged readily with setting aside a very achievable hour for reading on the nominated day. We will be asking Australians to read for an hour during lunch, with their reading group, before bed or on their commute, while engaging as many children as possible through school libraries.
Over the next few months, we will be reaching out and asking for your support. We will be asking booksellers, librarians and writers festivals to create engaging events for readers, we will be asking authors to attend these events and their publishers to promote these events through local media. We will be asking you all to make a lot of noise on social media.
As an industry, we can encourage Australians to read Australian stories for pleasure for an hour.
As an industry, we can spark a love of reading in children and set them up for a successful life, we can create more empathetic people and strive for a more prosperous and equitable society. Most of all, we can give Australians an hour out of their busy lives to escape into a great book and reduce their stress levels by a fantastic 68 per cent!