Reading for pleasure for the collective good of Aotearoa New Zealand
This literature review, prepared by Auckland University of Technology School of Education for the Pūtoi Rito Communities of Readers initiative, considers why and how to promote the benefits of reading for pleasure to all.
A report commissioned by the National Library of New Zealand as part of its Communities of Readers initiative. Please note, the views expressed in this report are not necessarily the views of the National Library.
1.1 Reading for pleasure in the context of the Communities of Readers initiative of the National Library of New Zealand
Our aspiration is for Aotearoa to be a nation of readers. A place where all tamariki, rangatahi and whānau have opportunities to read and have access to books, rich reading environments, reading role models, library services and support to develop a love of reading. However, there are persistent inequities in access to these opportunities across the country. So how then do you create a nation of readers? It can't be left to chance or to individuals -you need to build, support and strengthen communities to be at the heart of this kaupapa (Director of Literacy and Learning, National Library of New Zealand, email correspondence 15 September 2021).
Communities of Readers is an initiative of the National Library of New Zealand that aims to connect more children and young people with reading. This literature review is one of six pieces of research on reading commissioned by the library as an element of their broader initiative. In the review we have examined research literature related to reading for pleasure. Reading for pleasure is playful, absorbing activity that is associated with free will and personal satisfaction (Clark & Rumbold, 2006; Cremin et al., 2014; Paris & McNaughton, 2010). It differs from reading defined by children's literacy and the instructional practices of formal early years education or schooling yet has been recognised for a long time as demonstrably contributing to improved literacy outcomes and school achievement (Baumann & Duffy, 1997; Clark & Rumbold, 2006). Children's reading for pleasure is also associated with healthy behaviours (Mak & Fancourt, 2020a, 2020b), life-long reading habits (Taylor, 2013) and social participation (National Endowment for the Arts, 2007). While reading for pleasure has many benefits for individuals, they are not the focus of this review. The body of research examined in this report reinforces the importance of reading for social inclusion or public benefit and reminds us that reading for pleasure is primarily a social activity even when it involves being alone with a book.
Internationally there is a strong body of research concerning reading for pleasure, including pre-existing literature reviews and syntheses. Very little research has been conducted in Aotearoa New Zealand. Rather than cover the ground of pre-existing reviews, this review focuses on national debates and as far as possible national research. International research is drawn upon to highlight its significance but its limits for our context and communities must also be considered. Some prominent public debates on reading for pleasure come from the United Kingdom where official definitions by the National Literacy Trust and Department for Education focus upon the role of reading in supporting individual freedoms and will. The concept of communities of readers is also included in these debates, but the nature of the debate and the meaning of a community of readers is impoverished if reading is generally perceived to be an individual good. Further on we report on a focus group discussion that was convened to assist in understanding reading for pleasure given the limitations of the national research base (see section 1.3). The conversation highlighted something we have found in other aspects of our own and others' research on reading for pleasure. For children and tamariki reading for one's own pleasure may feel like an indulgence when there are commitments to school, family and community that need to be fulfilled. What this review of literature reveals is that while children and tamariki's reading for pleasure benefits individuals its greater importance lies in its collective good for Aotearoa New Zealand.
This review of research examines reading for pleasure as it relates to the reading cultures of Aotearoa New Zealand through a process of collaborative and systematic inquiry. It includes the main strands of international evidence on the nature, purposes, and propagation of reading for pleasure, and as much national evidence as the researchers could find. The review focuses on the reading of children and tamariki and perceives them as participants in different reading cultures, and while that includes the reading cultures of early years education and schooling the review is intentionally not limited to reading in formal education. While there is some evidence of Aotearoa New Zealand children or tamariki's perceptions of reading outside of school, national reading research tends to focus on reading literacy outcomes and within school instruction. When Fletcher and Nicholas (2016) spoke to 11- to 13-year-olds in New Zealand classrooms about their perceptions of reading they found that reading was largely valued for its usefulness as a life skill and few "…students highlighted reading for pleasure as part of their everyday life" (p.489). Yet according to mothers questioned in the Growing Up in New Zealand study 84% of children and tamariki at eight years of age enjoy reading for pleasure (Morton et. al, 2020). There is some evidence to suggest that as they move into adolescence reading for pleasure declines (Medina & McGregor, 2019; Ministry of Education, 2017). Our research suggests perceptions of young people's reading may vary according to who is asked, what they are asked, where they are asked and who is doing the asking. We think not enough is yet known about the reading of school-aged children and tamariki outside of school. An important question for future reading policy and practice is whether outcomes could be more equitable, and participation enhanced if schooling is better informed by and aligned with children and tamariki's development outside of school (Bourke et al., 2018).
This review is one of three full reports commissioned by the National Library for its Communities of Readers initiative conducted by the AUT University School of Education research team. The other two are reports of case studies that examine the reading cultures of two communities where the National Library aims to support reading for pleasure and communities of readers: Huntly College, a secondary school in a small town in Waikato; and five primary schools from Kāhui Ako o Tiriwā in West Auckland. Separate reports of these projects provide narratives of the reading cultures related to the work of the National Library and their communities of readers, drawing on its collective knowledge of reading, packages of support services for schools and libraries, and collections resources (Boyask et al., 2021; Harrington and Milne, 2021). Like the focus group discussion, it has been helpful to undertake empirical research alongside this literature review because reading for pleasure is an under-examined area in our national evidence base on children and tamariki's reading, especially for the primary and secondary school age groups. While the case studies are reported elsewhere the structure and organisation of this report has been informed by the understanding generated through these case studies even when it is not apparent. And finally, in this report we include excerpts from the focus group introduced above and interviews with those involved in establishing, managing, enacting, and engaging with the Communities of Readers initiative, especially where they have pointed us towards the nature of and influences on reading for pleasure in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand.
1.2 Context of Reading in Aotearoa New Zealand
Reading is viewed by many as a cornerstone of a civil and just society (Hilhorst et al., 2018; National Endowment for the Arts, 2007). Aotearoa New Zealand strives to be a civil and just society but reading literacy and engagement in reading are increasingly unequally distributed (OECD, 2019). A risk of the COVID-19 pandemic to our society is that our responses as a nation and as individuals may intensify inequality, so it is a crucial time to be focused on supporting tamariki and rangatahi, children and young people's reading. Schooling is an important way for governments to redistribute the good of reading in an unequal society, although schooling may also contribute to greater inequality since it prioritises some kinds of knowledge over others. Differences between children and tamariki's preparedness for school and immersion in cultural knowledge within their families and whānau, kāhui and communities have far reaching effects on life opportunities. In August 2020 Chief Education Scientific Advisor Stuart McNaughton released a report on the state of literacy in Aotearoa New Zealand. In that report he outlined some of the concerns that have emerged in the review of literature that is reported here. That is, there are discernible and longitudinal declines in reading literacy achievement and enjoyment of reading amongst school aged children and tamariki nationally. While McNaughton recognised the significance of independent reading outside of school, his recommendations prioritise addressing declines in reading through our schooling system by strengthening measures of assessment, evidence-based school interventions, and professional development for teachers in instructional methods. While a discussion of these recommendations is outside the scope of this report, in general we recognise that school-based initiatives are important to enhance children and tamariki's participation and capacity in reading. However, school-based solutions are insufficient on their own. Influences outside of school are very strong on what occurs within school (Okado et al., 2014; Sawyer et al., 2018), so improving the literacy of children and tamariki within school requires intervention outside of it through for example, early childhood services, support for te reo Māori or Pacific languages, or library services for children and families, tamariki and whānau. Our scope in this literature review is therefore broader than schooling and for this reason we avoid using school-related terminology to describe readers unless explicitly discussing reading in a school context. It is difficult to find a single term that describes both within and outside school readers from birth to the end of school-age, which is the life period covered by this review. We opted to use mainly the term children following the New Zealand Children's Commissioner's office that describes children as all under the age of 18 years. We have extended this when we, the literature review authors and not the authors of the literature reviewed, write about children in general within the context of Aotearoa New Zealand by using the term children and tamariki as one of the ways we recognise our responsibility to Te Tiriti o Waitangi | The Treaty of Waitangi, which sets out a power sharing agreement between the Crown and Tangata Whenua.
A multi-agency approach to supporting children and tamariki's reading acknowledges the profoundly social nature of reading and the need for a collective response to its decline. However, there is a lot of ground to make up. While Aotearoa New Zealand as a nation is framed by an agreement between two peoples, the national infrastructure is dominated by western cultural, political, legal, and economic institutions in breach of the treaty obligations, including libraries and schools (Oxborrow et al., 2017). Furthermore, Aotearoa New Zealand has over 30 years in recent history of public policies that prioritise competitive rather than collective individualisation. For instance, the Tomorrow's Schools policy of self-governing school administration that is currently poised for reform has left a legacy in school libraries. Kate de Goldi is a member of the Communities of Readers project board, but her main association with the library is as an independent trustee of Te Puna Foundation, the fundraising body for the National Library. She talks here of an experience visiting two primary and one intermediate school within streets of each other where one had a full-time librarian and thriving school library, another had a part time library and a limited budget for books and the third had no librarian and a very small budget for books.
There were deep inequities just within that suburb for children going to school and to leave it up to school principal management and board – so in other words, I think there should be a centralised organisation of school libraries. I think it's been a really deleterious aspect of Tomorrow's School libraries (Kate de Goldi, trustee of the Te Puna Foundation, interview 18 May 2020).
The work to develop the national capacity in reading is inherently collective work requiring a multifaceted, collaborative approach with recognition of differences between the goals and working practices of organisations and interests.
1.3 A Narrative of the Lived Experience of Reading
According to big data studies like PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study that surveys children around 9 years of age) and PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment that surveys 15-year-olds), children and tamariki in Aotearoa New Zealand are following international trends in declining engagement and enjoyment in reading (May, Flockton & Kirkham, 2016; Ministry of Education, 2017; Medina & McGregor, 2019). There are very few studies directly concerned with reading for pleasure in Aotearoa New Zealand to examine more closely or explain these findings. One of the few studies provides an illustration of preadolescents' engagement in out-of-school reading by surveying a group of seventy primary school Year 4 to 6 students and by interviewing three of the survey participants (Cummings et al., 2018). From the interviews Cummings et al. get closer to understanding children's experiences of reading and what motivates them. The children's ongoing engagement in reading is motivated by attaining the positive emotional states associated with a state of flow that is "highly personally relatable and relevant to personal goals" (p.111), and through socialisation when personal interest is supported and sustained by others around them. There are no comparable studies on the lived experience of reading for pleasure amongst adolescents in Aotearoa New Zealand.
To explore the gap in research literature and provide further insight on how to set about investigating an extensive and largely international literature base, two members of the research team (Ruth and Daniel) convened a small discussion group with three senior students from a local secondary school (see section 2 for a description of the methodology related to the discussion group). The reflection of the young people on their experiences and those of others they knew helped us to find what within existing knowledge on reading for pleasure has resonance with our cultural environment. The discussion we had helped bring to the surface and exemplified some of the themes identified in extant research. It helped us prioritise the themes we were reporting upon and informed their organisation in the report. This literature review does not replace the need to understand better reading for pleasure and undertake further research within Aotearoa New Zealand, but we can learn much from other places. This excerpt from the discussion bolsters pre-existing evidence that for this age group reading for pleasure is balanced against the challenges of pressures from schooling, future employment, and outside-of-school interests. It also suggests that within our nation and further research we should also take account of children and tamariki's responsibilities to their families and communities.
Ruth: The National Library has prompted us to think about this idea of a nation of readers. What the National Library would like to achieve is for Aotearoa New Zealand to be a nation of readers. I was wondering what your thoughts are about this idea and whether you think we are a nation of readers here in New Zealand, from your experience, or whether you think it's something we might become?
Kylie: I think yes because I enjoy reading and can talk about reading for other readers for being a part of the nation of readers. I think that our nation is generally a place where reading is occurring.
Lizzie: I'm the opposite. I don't think New Zealand is a nation of readers. I think a lot of people, especially young people our age, only read because they have to. It's a requirement for either school or assessments or just something you have to do. I don't think a lot of people do it for enjoyment, but I think becoming a nation of readers is something that we probably could achieve just based on everything that's going on right now – the whole project in the National Library and the reading ambassador being announced. I feel like it's something that we work towards, but I don't think it's something that we've achieved yet.
May: I agree with Lizzie cos, like she said, we are only reading for either school or work and most of the people here are practical learners. You can see that a lot of kids now have left school to work.
Daniel: Can I follow up with that real quick, May? Do you think reading is something that's done only in the school context or do you think people might leave and go to work but still be readers?
Kylie: I feel like it's compulsory in everyday life. You have to read a text message, or you have to read a sign that says, "Wear a mask in the school." Reading is compulsory but I don't think a lot of people do it for enjoyment; it's just a requirement.
Ruth: Do any of you read for enjoyment?
Lizzie: I read for enjoyment, definitely.
Kylie: All the time!
May: Is me the only one no!
Ruth: Not everyone does and even not all of you do but some of you do. Do you think everyone should read for enjoyment?
Lizzie: Yeah, definitely.
May: I want to.
Ruth: You'd like to.
May: Mm, yeah
Ruth: What things stop you?
May: To me, especially coming from my family, we have a lot of things happening – there's funerals happening every week. I don't know whose family it is but if it's somewhere in our village, always having a funeral every week or a certain celebration and it's taking up most of our time cos celebrations take up the whole week and it's very busy and all that. Also, our schoolwork – I just don't find time to read.
Ruth: It's not a priority for you, there's other things that are going on that have more of a priority.
Ruth: What kind of reading is most rewarding, do you think?
Kylie: I think reading for both enjoyment and for learning because, for me, sometimes they can be combined. Reading about Egyptians and ancient Greeks and all of that sort of stuff is reading for enjoyment and also I learn from it.
Lizzie: Mine would be similar. Mine would be more if you can take something from it, like Kylie was saying. Whether you learn something from it or if it teaches you to look at something from a different perspective or if, for instance, you hold a strong opinion about something, you read someone else's point about it and then you're like, I can see where they're coming from. I feel like the most rewarding thing would be reading and then being able to take something from it.
Ruth: Do you think other people would have different views from you? You talked a little bit, May, about your family and your family priorities; are there any other significant people in any of your lives who would have different views of reading? I remember, Kylie, you talking a little bit about how your mother has an opinion on your reading. I don't know if you have anything you'd like to say about that?
Kylie: She encourages reading but also reminds me that I need to sometimes do actual work as well as reading. Sometimes I get banned for that for a month or several weeks.
Lizzie: I used to get that, too. My punishment was always no books. My family was always supportive of me reading cos my younger sister reads constantly as well. When you get older you get all these other influences like getting a phone and social media and then all your attention's taken away from reading (group discussion, 2 September 2020).
The conversation emphasises the social nature of reading for pleasure. It shows that reading is valued differently within different communities, and that understanding communities or nations of readers also requires recognition of their complexities. As our literature review will show in the remainder of this report, reading for pleasure is oftentimes represented as unproblematically beneficial for children and tamariki. The students remind us that like adults, children and tamariki have their own beliefs, interests, commitments, and priorities that arise through their social responsibilities and relationships. A community of pleasure readers may be expected to exhibit diversity in interests and priorities as a fundamental characteristic.
2. Structure and methodology
The focus of this report is a review of literature on reading for pleasure and its support within communities of readers. It is part of a programme of research undertaken for the Communities of Readers initiative of the National Library of New Zealand. The structure of the report is informed by two different elements: 1) conversations with two different kinds of expert informants (personnel involved in setting the strategy for, managing, and running the Communities of Readers programme and senior students from a local secondary school) and 2) themes emerging from the literature review.
Our early scoping of the topic in the research literature suggested that reading for pleasure did not have a significant research base in Aotearoa New Zealand. Aware of a paucity of literature related to the national context we sought expert informants to help guide the direction and purpose of the review.
We first conducted interviews with those involved in the Communities of Readers initiative. Members of the research team conducted individual, online semi-structured interviews with eight members of the Communities of Readers programme management group and programme board. These interviews were conducted in accordance with ethical protocols approved by AUT's ethics committee, and participants were aware their contributions would be attributed in the report. We have identified the participants using job roles rather than names to indicate their expertise.
The research team also consulted with three young people as expert informants. They were at the older end of our target demographic of birth to eighteen years, and this was an important advantage since they were also able to inform us about a particularly under-researched area of reading, that is, adolescents' declining enjoyment of reading. We approached a senior leader from a local secondary school who was known by the research team. The researchers were invited to meet with a group of senior students to invite them to participate in a discussion group. Three students agreed to participate in our discussion and are identified by pseudonyms in this report. In accordance with our ethical protocol, they received information sheets and were asked for informed consent to participate. All were over the age of sixteen.
These conversations informed the scope of the literature review and supports the rationale and main arguments developed in the literature review.
The main findings of this report come from the review of research literature.The literature review was developed through an iterative process that included reflection through dialogue on the findings from our expert informants and ongoing deliberation and reflexivity within the research team. The process of review was started by working with three foundational search terms:
- reading for pleasure,
- communities of readers, and
- building a reading culture.
Undertaking a systematic search for these terms (and associated terms "reading for enjoyment", "engaged reading" and "reading communities") in library databases provided an entry point for building a literature database. Since our intention was to construct a review for Aotearoa New Zealand where the research evidence in this area was limited, we employed deliberative and dialogic methods to searching to identify what within the international literature may be of most relevance (filtering our database) and what other themes we might include in the review (adding to our database). As we found literature for our database, syntheses were entered into a template under the following headings: full reference, filed in which folder, abstract verbatim, age of participants, conceptual framework, methods used, findings, analytical discussion, usefulness, quotes, and keywords.
Deliberation occurred through meetings of the literature review working group (comprised of Ruth Boyask, Celeste Harrington, and Chris Wall) and was informed by reflection on the initial data gathered from expert informants. We were also informed by ongoing discussion in our research advisory group and through the resources and expertise of the National Library who sent us lists they had generated of reading research. Finally, we were concurrently conducting case study research at two sites for the Communities of Readers community projects, and our emergent findings also informed our selection of literature. Through these discussions we developed focus questions in five areas that helped to narrow our searches and generate early findings from the literature review.
|What is reading for pleasure?|
|What are the goals of reading for pleasure? What can reading help us achieve? And what do we want reading for pleasure to achieve?|
|What kinds of texts count in reading for pleasure? Do different kinds of texts engage students in different ways, and produce different kinds of outcomes? What texts are valued in what kinds of contexts?|
|Social participation is supported by reading for pleasure and social engagement supports reading for pleasure, especially through engagement with significant others who value and support reading. Who and what might count as a significant other?|
|What do we know about the distribution and development of reading for pleasure in different New Zealand communities or for students who share common characteristics?|
Our reading expanded until we felt confident that we had answered our questions. The main theme of the review, that is, the collective good of reading in Aotearoa emerged from deliberation within the research team on the answers to our questions and led to development of the following four themes that structure this report:
- Reading for pleasure
- Communities of readers
- Communities of readers in formal educational settings
- Reading publics
We prioritized the inclusion of research in the review (with research defined broadly methodologically and not confined to empirical work, but where knowledge had been generated through a transparent and systematic process). The rarity of systematic research related to reading for pleasure in Aotearoa New Zealand led us to include some significant opinion pieces or personal reflections to broaden our pool of knowledge. We indicate these in the writing. Drafts of the literature review have been discussed with colleagues from the National Library to check for resonance with their knowledge of the field and finally, have been subject to an academic peer review process.
3. Reading for pleasure in reading communities: Literature review
3.1 Reading for pleasure
3.1.1 What is reading for pleasure?
The benefits attributed to reading for pleasure are extensive and stretch across demographics. Terms such as ludic reading (Nell, 1988), engaged reading (Garces et al., 2018; Paris & McNaughton, 2010) and reading for pleasure (Cremin et al., 2014), have been used to describe reading that is absorbing, potentially to the point of complete preoccupation, for the reader. It is an experience in which the reader is "not distracted easily; they sustain attention through difficulties and focus on making sense of what they read" (Paris & McNaughton, 2010, p. 13). Early definitions of reading for pleasure suggests an activity where "the imagination is stimulated and varied interests are aroused" (Gray, 1924) and "that it is at root a play activity, and usually paratelic, that is, pursued for its own sake" (Apter, 1979, as cited in Nell, 1988, p. 7).
While play is central in earlier definitions of reading for pleasure in contemporary usage the term reading for pleasure is regularly but not always linked to educational performance. Recent understanding of reading for pleasure has been influenced significantly by school literacy debates in the United Kingdom. Some research from the United Kingdom aligns reading for pleasure with theories of creativity and openness in children's development. For example, Kucirkova et al. (2017) analyze young children's reading for pleasure of digital books using Craft's (2011) 4P conceptualization of 21st century childhood (pluralities, possibilities, playfulness and participation). Craft (2013) saw also possibilities for continuing playfulness and its benefits into adulthood through digital engagement, where more embodied forms of play such as playground games become less accessible, and the same might be said for fiction reading. But reading for pleasure has been increasingly transformed through discourses of school literacy and achievement in the United Kingdom. Clark and Rumbold's (2006) report for the United Kingdom's National Literacy Trust defines reading for pleasure as "...reading that we to do of our own free will anticipating the satisfaction that we will get from the act of reading" (p.6), and this definition was picked up by England's Department for Education (DfE) report Research Evidence on Reading for Pleasure: Education Standards Research Team (2012). While Craft's conceptualization of childhood is prosocial in its emphasis on participation and pluralism, Clark and Rumbold's definition, adopted by the DfE, is underpinned by a philosophy of personal autonomy and individual freedom. These individualistic assumptions may find conflict in some of Aotearoa New Zealand's communities where an individual is valued for their contribution to the collective. Yet they are consistent with a view of education as self-maximization and preparation for participation in a global economy.
This research recognizes variety in ways to define the term reading for pleasure, and places importance on understanding these differences over and above committing to a single definition. The meanings of reading for pleasure can change unnoticed according to the purposes attributed to it and how it is used.
3.1.2 Personal benefits of reading for pleasure
The associations between reading for pleasure and beneficial outcomes for individuals are well known, and include improved school achievement (Jerrim & Moss, 2019), cognitive function (Sullivan & Brown, 2015), psychological wellbeing (Mak & Fancourt, 2020a), healthy behaviours (Mak & Fancourt, 2020b) and social inclusion (Wilhelm & Smith, 2016). While the earliest concepts of reading for pleasure defined it as intrinsically motivated activity, as its benefits are recognized there is greater reason to motivate children and tamariki to read for pleasure through extrinsic rewards. Research that focuses upon motivation for reading suggests "there is substantial agreement on the beneficial effects of intrinsic reading motivation and the relatively small or negative impact of extrinsic reading motivation" (Schiefele et. al, 2012, p. 457) internationally and in Aotearoa New Zealand (Goulding et al., 2018; Paris & McNaughton, 2010). Fostering intrinsic motivation to pursue reading therefore seems central to successfully building a reading for pleasure culture; yet, when goals for reading for pleasure are established externally reading is not just for pleasure and is negotiating other priorities.
For example, Jerrim & Moss (2019) found strong associations between frequency of fiction reading for enjoyment and reading achievement assessed through PISA scores, whereas there was little evidence to infer an effect for reading other types of texts. "A 'fiction effect' might well emerge because it requires young people to concentrate and read deeply, encouraging meaningful thought and reflection upon what they are reading, rather than just superficially gathering information by skimming through shorter texts" (p. 182) and therefore contribute valuably to their performance at school. Several studies (Hempel-Jorgensen et. al, 2018; Merga & Ledger, 2019) suggest that there are significant tensions when trying to promote reading for pleasure in schools. These tensions include competing priorities such as curriculum coverage, assessment demands and a lack of time for teachers to deliver experiences to promote reading for pleasure.
Howard's (2011) literature review identifies three kinds of reasons to read for pleasure: 1) enhancement of educational performance through cognitive development, 2) correlations with high status social participation like employment, cultural and sporting activity, and 3) personal enjoyment and development. Personal development includes physical and mental wellbeing, and evidence is accruing of long-term associations between some but not all healthy behaviours and reading for pleasure (Mak & Fancourt, 2020a, 2020b). Children who read daily at age 11 showed better behavioural and psychological adjustment and mental health (Mak & Fancourt, 2020a). Reading most days at age 11 is associated with a decreased risk of cigarette and alcohol use, but lower levels of physical activity (Mak & Fancourt, 2020b). However, it may be that the healthy behaviours associated with reading are better overall since book readers live almost two years longer than non-readers (Avni, Slade & Levy, 2016). In Howard's (2011) own study of 68 12- to 15-year-old young people in Canada she expanded the individual benefits of reading for pleasure extrapolated from extant literature to social benefits of reading for pleasure such as understanding of the world, social conscience and empathy, empowerment, and guidance for life. Evidence of links between reading and health are important since they indicate that goals for enhancing academic performance need not come at the expense of goals for wellbeing, which has become a critical concern for schooling transnationally in response to analysis of PISA data suggesting that focus on one has negative consequences for the other (Heller-Sahlgren, 2018; Clarke, 2020).
While the benefits accrued from reading for pleasure are well reported in international literature, they may not be as well known in Aotearoa New Zealand. Reading especially in schools may have different values attached. When interviewed to find out about their perceptions of the teaching of reading Fletcher and Nicholas (2016) reported that adolescents recognized the value of reading to their future employment and financial wellbeing. None connected it to other facets of their wellbeing or health, nor spoke unprompted about reading as a pleasurable activity. The New Zealand Book Council (Horizon Research Limited, 2018) research on book reading asked questions of their adult and child participants almost exclusively related to recreational purposes for reading. Their study of reading in a digital age (Read NZ Te Pou Muramura 1, 2019) examined a range of different purposes for reading (pleasure, no real reason, work and study) but only for participants 18 years of age and over. While they report data revealing how participants felt about reading, there were no conclusions drawn from the data. How reading is valued and understood within different environments in Aotearoa New Zealand is an area open for future research, especially for children and tamariki. While the Read NZ Te Pou Muramura study concluded reading enjoyment increases with age, because it was a snapshot of current reading behaviours and attitudes in adulthood their results do not assist predictions on whether today's 18 year olds will enjoy reading more as they get older nor what might be the future attitudes of today's school aged children.
3.1.3 Who reads for pleasure?
Longitudinal study of reading through national and international comparative surveys indicates progress in reading literacy for children and young people in Aotearoa New Zealand has plateaued (Fletcher & Nicholas, 2016), and engagement and interest in reading is apparently declining, especially as children and tamariki move into adolescence and adulthood (Horizon Research Limited, 2018; Medina & McGregor, 2019). International studies PISA (15-year-old students) and PIRLS (Year 5 students) suggest there are some variations within social groups, although they use blunt social categories that may be difficult to interpret. Analysis of PISA data indicates Māori and Pacific students are more likely to have "lower confidence in and enjoyment of reading" (Medina & McGregor, 2019, p.19). Once adjusted for socio-economic factors it emerges that low self-efficacy of Māori and Pacific students in reading is aligned with poverty prevalent in these communities and is consistent with the finding that low socio-economic status overall is associated with lower enjoyment in reading (Medina & McGregor, 2019).
Studies of reading from across the wider population of Aotearoa New Zealand suggest that even when time spent reading increases through digital engagement, enjoyment of reading is declining in younger age groups. Read NZ Te Pou Muramura's report on Reading in a Digital Age (Davidson & Harris, 2019) presents a snapshot of current reading practice rather than examining trends over time. Their report concludes that regardless of age or gender one in three people believe they are reading more than ever before through engagement with online material. Yet the youngest cohort in this study (18- to 24-year-olds) found less pleasure in reading than older cohorts.
The youngest generation (18- to 24-year-olds) are less positive. Nearly 1 in 4 say they dislike reading, find it stressful, are less likely to finish every book they start, and feel like they have to read rather than choose to read (Davidson & Harris, 2019, p.14).
Seen in conjunction with the longitudinal data on school aged children and tamariki these findings suggest we may see declining enjoyment in reading continue as a trend in the future for some time unless there are significant changes in children's engagement with reading. When 34 young adolescents (11- to 13-year-olds) in Aotearoa New Zealand classrooms were asked about their perceptions of reading they rarely spoke about reading for pleasure as part of their everyday life (Fletcher & Nicholas, 2016). Reading was valued but as a "commodity to be acquired, rather than a skill to allow them to read for pleasure" (p. 494).
Declines in reading literacy achievement have been attributed to changes in school instruction and assessment practices, notably the inadequacy, lack and variability of phonics teaching; an NCEA structure that compartmentalized learning and produced idiosyncratic programmes of study; and the introduction of National Standards assessment of reading in primary schools (McNaughton, 2020). McNaughton favours multiple and combined explanations rather than a single causal factor, including social, economic, and cultural influences.
While analysis of PISA findings indicates reading of books has a stronger association with educational performance than reading other kinds of texts (Jerrim & Moss, 2019; Jerrim, Lopez-Agudo, & Marcenaro-Gutierrez, 2020), other forms of language intervention may be even more effective for some children and tamariki. Study of Māori early skill development for later academic achievement suggested that some types of maternal behaviour during interactions with tamariki can be attributed to higher attainment at school. Even though book reading is correlated with early academic skills for tamariki in this study, conversations that involve reminiscing about events in their own lives was more strongly correlated (Neha et al., 2020). In this research reminiscing interactions involved more opportunities for Māori mothers to engage tamariki in elaboration, repetition or linking talk, whereas book interactions were more likely limited to description and labelling. This finding is compelling given that the books had been explicitly chosen by the researchers to represent a whānau relationship with which the mothers and children might identify to give the comparison the best possible chance of success. It is rare for tamariki to see Māori identities represented in books (Makereti, 2017) and this is discussed further in section 3.2.3 of this review.
One rare Aotearoa New Zealand study of school-aged children's out-of-school reading surveyed 69 children to find out what out-of-school activities they engage in, and why (Cummings et al., 2018). While books were the most popular reading matter, the most common literacy-related activity was watching YouTube videos, and gaming was an activity popular with many and "Nearly one-third reported reading tips or cheats as well as reading/writing message to other players, while just under forty percent reported talking to other players online" (p. 108). Other international studies present richer illustrations of the nature of children's reading as well as how they are motivated to read through engagement with others.
Cultural or other human influences are prominent in literature on supporting and developing reading for pleasure. Studies that have tried to reverse decline in reading have looked to significant others who motivate children's reading (Fletcher & Nicholas, 2018). United Kingdom based studies point to teachers and their reading as important influences on children's reading, and that teachers can build communities of readers in their classrooms to support the development of reading (Cremin et al., 2009; Cremin et al., 2014). Others have tried to understand and develop out-of-school literacy cultural customs and practices. Parental and family influences in early reading are cited as the main influence on children's reading development (Strommen & Mates, 2004). Studies of countries with high performance in literacy illustrate the critical role played by out-of-school organizations on the reading literacy of children and young people, for example in Finland and Sweden where public libraries have very high cultural value and work towards the public good in partnership with schools (Avery, 2017; Heikkilä & Tuisku, 2017) or Korea where groups of parents educate themselves on reading literacy so they might influence their children's reading (Lim, 2017). Other human influences have been examined such as educational leaders (J. Fletcher, 2018), peers (Wilhelm & Smith, 2016), friends (Klauda & Wigfield, 2012) and librarians (Huang & Nathan-Roberts, 2019). Furthermore, there are a few investigations of non-human influences on reading for pleasure such as Aerila and Merisuo-Storm (2017) who claim children enjoy reading with dogs more than other humans.
3.1.4 What kinds of texts count in reading for pleasure?
When considering reading for pleasure, what constitutes reading? Does the nature of reading texts influence reading for pleasure? Studies of the materiality of reading help to answer these questions. The reading for pleasure literature engages with different kinds of reading texts, although there is a tendency for reading for pleasure to be "…associated with the immersive reading of print text, and more specifically the immersive reading of fiction" (Burnett & Merchant, 2018, p. 62). Luo et al.'s (2020) study of 153 four-year-olds from low-income, U.S. ethnic-minority families suggested that not only was their access to books half the national average, but that the kinds of books they had access to were not engaging or culturally relevant. The children were more likely to have access to concept books with generic European American knowledge, and less likely to have access to narrative texts that represented diverse forms of knowledge including representations of their own cultures. Other forms of children's diversity may be stigmatized through stereotypical and disparaging representations in children's books. Kim & Wee's (2020) study of the representation of homelessness in children's books found "most of the books delivered explicit and implicit messages about the normativity of homeless characters... In particular, their lack of hygiene was overly expressed, with negative words such as 'dirty,' 'smelled bad,' 'looked scary,' and 'mutt'" (p. 370).
Cummings et al. (2018) claim that understanding children's out-of-school literacy practices may help educators find ways to motivate and engage them in reading. The out-of-school literacy activities that children engage in can be used to support in-school literacy activities. Their findings highlight that children blur the lines between different media to discover and engage in things of interest. There is increased reading of digital texts in the adult population (Davidson & Harris, 2019), and 95% of the Growing Up in New Zealand Study cohort had "access to at least one device for their use at home (computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone)" (Morton et al., 2020, p. 8). There is a lot of variance across schools in their use of digital technologies. In Aotearoa New Zealand schools this has been documented as related to the value placed on the devices and the ability to access robust IT services (Fletcher & Nicholas, 2018). O'Connell et al. (2015) provide three examples of what might be considered an eBook or digital book: electronic versions of print books, electronic versions of print textbooks, enhanced books. To support reading for pleasure, the authors go on to suggest that "teachers need to clearly identify what the digital experience can offer that print does not" (p. 197).
Different forms of print media are associated with different outcomes for readers. For example, Jerrim & Moss (2019) through examining PISA results found that reading novels was associated with 10 months academic progress compared with reading non-fiction, magazines, newspapers, or comics. The effects of digital or digitally augmented reading compared with print media are not yet fully understood. Yet, "recent studies show that the benefits of introducing augmented reality in the world of books are immense: they increase the reader's engagement, as they feel the need to participate more, they become curious and interested in giving their own interpretation of the text" (Stanica et al., 2019, p. 97). Since deep engagement is related to benefits of reading for pleasure, these findings are promising. To develop the potential of digital books to support reading for pleasure "researchers and digital book publishers need to work together . . . with a common focus on the potential for nurturing reading for pleasure with digital books" (Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2015, as cited in Kucirkova et al., 2017, p. 78).
3.1.5 Where does reading for pleasure take place?
Environments have been examined for their influence on reading for pleasure, but not to a great extent. In research on geographies of reading Dyer (2018) examined the reading spaces of year-one children in English classrooms. She found most children assigned to lower ability reading sets were unenthusiastic about the spaces where they read, with the exception of children at a school where they could lie down in the classroom's book corner and spaces that had been "refurbished with bright, attractively coloured furniture, which invited play as well as supporting reading" (p.207), and "featured a stack of brightly-coloured cushions, reminiscent of 'party rings', iced biscuits with a hole in the middle, and a set of green plastic dogs that could be sat upon by these five and six year old children" (pp.207-208).
The environment that is created by educators is important to the pleasure of reading, but this does not only mean physical environment. Research on sociocritical literacy uses spatial metaphors like the "third space" which represents a hybrid space in between home and school to highlight how different cultural practices and histories can meet within learning environments. While some students have backgrounds that make school-based literacies difficult to access, in a third space learning environment home practices and knowledge can be valued, shared and identities expanded collectively and dialogically towards the practices and knowledges valued by school. An example of relevance to reading for pleasure are third space summer literacy programmes for lower achieving groups (Gutiérrez, 2008). Through immersion in a third space environment readers expand their identities to include reading, learning the cultural practices and cognitive grammar of reading success through instructional conversations. One of the few New Zealand studies on school-aged children's reading outside of a compulsory school environment was Gwilliam & Limbrick's (2016) report on a collaboration between a school and a local library that set up a summer reading programme. Evaluation of the summer reading programme found increases in comprehension and students' self-efficacy and identity as readers, but also noted that preparedness for participating in the summer reading programme may have had as much impact as actual participation.
It has long been known that reading in the home from an early age brings benefits to children. Research in Aotearoa New Zealand is consistent with international literature on this point. Children of 3 and 4 years who are read to regularly in their homes are well practiced in making meaning of books by the time they start school and used to interacting with other readers (in this case the parent) to discuss and make meaning of the book together (Phillips & McNaughton, 1990). Furthermore, in Aotearoa New Zealand homes, children who engage in shared reading with their parents before two years of age are likely to learn constrained skills through these interactions, that is develop "the knowledge and awareness of the sound system and the written-symbol/ alphabetic system" (McNaughton, 2020, p.10) that are also important for academic development (Meissel et al., 2019).
Public spaces for reading other than schools and early childhood education settings are less often explored in research on children and tamariki's reading. For example, there is limited documented research of how libraries in Aotearoa New Zealand construct environments for children and tamariki's reading for pleasure, although one study from 2008 provides insight on the range of activities that might be found within 28 public libraries (Darling, 2008). In order of frequency (high to low) the activities consist of book displays, author visits, book reviews, children's reading programme, festivals/events, pre-school activities, reading groups, media features, class visits. Storytimes preschool programmes in Aotearoa New Zealand public libraries is mainly intended to foster enjoyment of reading and books. This was the context for a study by Goulding et al. (2018) that focused not on the element of enjoyment but on whether librarians focus their delivery on children's acquisition of early reading literacy skills. They found that the librarians' practices were similar to "shared reading in mainstream communities, early education centres, and classroom environments" (p. 207).
3.2 Communities of readers
3.2.1 Comprehending communities of readers
One Book Nova Scotia is a province-based, library-initiated programme of communal book reading for adults in Nova Scotia, Canada (Harder et al., 2015). It is explicitly intended to develop an expansive and cohesive reading culture through social interaction around a shared book. An evaluation of the programme found that a primary motivator for participation was "the goal of developing or participating in a reading community" (Harder et al., 2015, p.1). Community cohesion proved elusive for One Book Nova Scotia, with some community members having a lack of interest in the chosen book, and others finding the use of Twitter (the chosen method for communication amongst members) off-putting. The demographics and discussions were analyzed of those who persisted with community participation on Twitter. They "tended to be well-educated females, aged 50-59, and often employed in libraries, bookselling or publishing, or news media" (Ibid.), showing relative homogeneity despite the library's original intention to foster a province-wide and diverse reading culture. In social analysis the concept of community is slippery and changeable, and it suffers when it is regarded as a fixed entity where people behave in set ways (Studdert & Walkerdine, 2016). The example of One Book Nova Scotia raises awareness of those who did not participate in the ways anticipated, but still should be accounted for when examining the totality of a community of readers.
Being with others for us requires more than a group of individuals together and rather a kind of beingness created as more than the sum of its parts, more than simply a collection of people (Studdert & Walkerdine, 2016, p. 617).
In a community of readers learning and development is socio-cultural. That is, a central truth of learning is that we are social beings and knowing comes through active engagement and participation in the social world (Wenger, 2009). The concept of reader engagement can also be interpreted as socio-cultural, that is when readers participate in the social world through engagement with social artefacts that are reading texts. Many of the ways reader engagement is defined and used in reading research and policy are not explicitly socio-cultural and instead focus upon individual cognition, behaviours, or emotions (Cremin et al., 2014). Reading for pleasure also tends to be defined in relation to the free will of the individual (Clark and Rumbold, 2006; Wilhelm, 2016). It is difficult to understand the whole from examining just the parts, and a way of comprehending the totality of a community of readers is also needed.
Communities of readers or reading communities are concepts commonly used in Aotearoa New Zealand education (Fletcher et al., 2013; Harrison, 2012), but following the UKLA studies on reading teachers and building communities of readers in classrooms the notion of community is usually limited to or fixed to the classroom (Cremin et al. 2014). A broader concept for communities of readers comes from reading research in the United States. "Readers regularly interact around books with other members of their social circle who love to read" (Strommen, & Mates, 2004, p.193). That is, readers will discuss what they read with family members or close friends. This is often with other family members who have a love for reading, and may have inspired the younger 'reader' to take up reading. "School is not the critical factor, though a teacher's enthusiasm might be" and all "the readers interviewed clearly connected a love of reading with experiences provided outside of school" (Ibid. p. 197). Developments in information and communication technologies (ICTs) expand the locations where communities of readers might develop, for example they have changed the ways readers share and find books they are interested in with one another and connect with groups of people who like the same books as them (Huang & Nathan-Roberts, 2019). To understand communities of readers we need to understand all these different relations and how they work together to influence reading within everchanging communities.
An Aotearoa New Zealand study of parents' perceptions of what supports their children's reading suggests that relationships between parent and child are situated within a system, drawing on the ecological views of development from Bronfenbrenner (Fletcher & Nicholas, 2018).
As Bronfenbrenner (1996) contended, the wider systemic environment and those significant others have a reciprocal and changing interplay which influences an individual's learning. When this involves learning to read and comprehend, the interplay amongst the parents and their young adolescents, along with the interactions, and specific and explicit teaching of reading by teachers, work collaboratively in weaving together the complex skills and strategies needed for successful reading achievement (p. 245).
While the metaphor of an ecosystem captures to an extent the complex relations of reading, the assumption in this quote is that the community ecosystem works in harmony through collaboration. Viewing a community of readers through an ecological lens emphasizes dependent reading relations between individuals and mechanistic transmission or adaptive models of learning within a system of relations, even though the system may be complex. Relations between readers and significant others may not be the congenial collaborations described by Fletcher and Nicholas; for example, even when parents act as 'significant others' to support their children and tamariki in reading they may also become the gatekeepers of which books are read and when. Drawing from socio-cultural literature on the situatedness of reading within communities of practice provides a more complex explanation of children and tamariki's reading practices. It acknowledges that reading is defined collectively by "interested parties, multiple activities, and different goals and circumstances" (Lave, 2009, p. 204), and that categories that appear natural like readers or literacy or communities are changeable social and cultural products. They are not necessarily cohesive.
3.2.2 Social distribution of reading for pleasure
Understanding reading as social practice involves paying attention to how reading for pleasure is distributed across and within society. From a sociocultural perspective the activity of reading for pleasure occurs within communities as opposed to a single community, which is important to remember. Schooling is the dominant context for research on school-aged children and tamariki's reading, making their reading in other communities invisible in research literature. Societal rules and norms influence reading activity, as do the ways that society is stratified and reproduces divisions of labour. For example, in a study of young adolescents in Aotearoa New Zealand J. Fletcher (2018) claims that "the sociocultural values and beliefs of the students' parents, had a pervasive influence on their children and what motivated them to learn" (p. 303). That is, the values and beliefs of the parents act as rules that regulate children's reading for pleasure and where parents are socially located (e.g. socio-economic status) influences the outcomes of reading. Other studies suggest parental cultural capital has a lasting impact on the likelihood of a child reading for pleasure such as Sullivan & Brown's (2015) study of the influence of children and parental reading on cognitive tests found parents' education was far more important for children's performance than parents' economic resources, measured as social class, income and home ownership. This finding is consistent with Bourdieu's (1986) contention on types of capital that for cognitive outcomes cultural resources matter more than economic resources. The cultural resources that support children and tamariki's reading for pleasure are not evenly distributed amongst Aotearoa New Zealand families and whānau. In some cases this may be due to capability and confidence of adults to support children and tamariki's reading (Sullivan & Brown, 2015). Other times material restrictions impact on children's access to cultural resources such as "when parents are working long hours and struggling to make ends meet, time to take their children to the library, read with them and take part in school activities are severely marginalized" (J. Fletcher, 2018, p. 310). But it is also not clear that reading for pleasure or success in the outcomes of reading are understood broadly enough, are valued equally in all cultural contexts or are inclusive of the variations in cultural resources to which children and tamariki may have access.
3.2.3 Pluralism in communities of readers
Children may bring cultural resources to reading that are valued differently in different contexts. In a small action research project on differences between home and school reading, Jackson (2016) describes the reading literacy experiences of 10-year-old student Jack.
Jack's family had a full literary life and had developed powerful literary traditions. Their practices surrounding Pratchett's works were embedded in their everyday life, meaningful to them and engaging. Jack was a full participant in this world despite having not accessed the print versions for himself. However, Jack's active membership in his family's rich literary life was vastly different from his participation in literacy at school where he was considered to be failing (Jackson, 2016, p. 253).
In this case the reading practices of novel reading in the home were those usually associated with school success, but Jack's identity as a reader at home had not been recognised, and instead became narrowed and fixed by the literacy curriculum of his classroom. The assessment of his literacy ability restricted his access at school to reading texts that were engaging and interesting to him. There are many other ways children's abilities become fixed and therefore impact upon their possibilities of reading for pleasure, and not only at school. Research on children with disabilities and their access to public libraries suggest that while librarians wish to be inclusive in story time programmes or other early literacy activities there exist barriers such as children with autism having difficulties managing the sensory environment (Simpson et al., 2020) or parents' reluctance to approach librarians to discuss accommodating their child's behaviour (Prendergast, 2016).
The transition from one context to another can be supported by careful facilitation that considers where children are at and where they might be guided towards progress. For example, Rona and McLachlan (2018) studied Māori children's biliteracy experiences in transition from a kōhanga reo setting to kura kaupapa Māori, bilingual, and mainstream school settings. They found that teaching supported the transition when the children's language learning was "guided within the ZPD, and when the person teaching it is able to relate to any prior learning experiences and emotions of their younger readers, they build relationships, which influences learning outcomes" (p.77). The researchers conclude that teachers in mainstream settings need skills in both English and te reo Māori, and fluency in both languages in Māori medium classrooms.
While the teachers in their study appear supportive of children's language, Rona and McLachlan also noted some shortfalls in te reo Māori reading resources in the classrooms they visited. Recognizing pluralism in reading communities means making available reading texts where children's language and identity are represented; for example, in a public lecture on the whakapapa of Māori and Pacific literature Makereti (2017) claimed:
In general, our children and young people don't get to read stories that include people like them, from communities like their own. Our children don't get to hear voices like their own, they don't see themselves in the literature they encounter, and, therefore, they're less likely to see literature as something that belongs to them.
A similar concern prompted a study of the content of books in low-income homes in the United States. The research suggested that income rather than ethnicity was a predictor of children's access to numbers of books at home; however, the kinds of books they had access to were more likely to be concept books based on universal knowledge (for example, numbers, letters, shapes) and less likely to be narrative books that support the development of higher order thinking such as "social and emotional knowledge, the construction of meaning, and narrative and inferential skills" (Luo et al., 2020, p. 214). Narrative books are also more likely to portray culturally specific knowledge, although the researchers found many books focused on European American culture, with far fewer portraying minority cultures. Books may also contribute to children's negative perceptions of themselves or perceptions of their peers by representing aspects of their identity in a negative light. Homelessness rates of children are increasing in the United States, and Kim and Wee's (2020) study examined how homelessness is represented in children's books. In over 20 years of publication "the physical traits of homelessness in picture books were often associated with mental health or immorality" (p. 370). Dehumanising portrayals, lack of diversity of characters and stigmatisation limits childrens' understanding of the realities of social phenomena and may encourage negative perceptions of themselves or other people who are in this situation.
Facilitation that supports difference in experience and background is also needed in libraries. While communities in rural Thailand have many differences from those in Aotearoa New Zealand, there may be themes that resonate for some in a study on the strategies of libraries for supporting reading for pleasure. Reported upon in a conference paper the study concluded that "the traditional public libraries which require formality was identified as not relevant to the majority of rural Thai people who want to read, but feel too intimidated to enter the official public libraries that require formal outfits, procedures, and Central Thai language that most of them do not use in daily life" (Boonaree et al., 2018, p. 6). While there is not similar research on public libraries in Aotearoa New Zealand, it would not be surprising to find that as public institutions originating in a colonial state they are also deemed irrelevant to some who are unfamiliar with or indifferent to their social norms and customs (Oxborrow et al., 2017). However, in response to political action and advocacy by Māori, pronouncements by the Waitangi Tribunal and the pressure these exercised on government, public libraries have taken greater responsibility for supporting the revitalisation of te reo Māori in the last 30 years (Lilley, 2019).
3.3 Communities of readers in formal education
3.3.1. Reading for pleasure in educational settings
Research on reading for pleasure in schooling highlights the importance of teachers and educational leaders in motivating reading for pleasure. Reading for pleasure appears in both the early childhood curriculum Te Whāriki, "recognising print symbols and concepts and using them with enjoyment, meaning and purpose | he kōrero tuhituh" (Ministry of Education, 2017, p. 42) and New Zealand Curriculum achievement objectives "selects and reads texts for enjoyment and personal fulfilment" (TKI, 2014). Reading in the curriculum for early childhood centres and schools have other goals for reading different from enjoyment, such as the development of literacy skills, acquiring information, increasing self-belief, or improving educational performance. As shown in earlier sections of the review more time spent in self-directed, enjoyable, and absorbing reading can help achieve all these goals. But these other priorities can dominate children's reading even during time set aside for reading for pleasure. "The power and potential of pleasure suffers from a degree of neglect in schools, teaching practices and in the research base" (Wilhelm, 2016, p. 31). Wilhelm (2016) recommends strategies for teachers developed from interviews with 29 8th graders from the Western United States of America on different forms of pleasure in reading, including immersive play, intellectual pleasure, social pleasure, pleasure in work. The main recommendation is for teachers to respect the reading choices made by their students, indicating that engagement with their chosen texts is a process of active meaning-making and facilitates "interpretive complexity" (p.37).
Reading for pleasure pedagogies like these and those discussed in section 3.3.2 benefit all students and may be integrated into centres and schools to encourage literacy development, but teachers' unconscious assumptions, knowledge, beliefs, and expectations may make reading for pleasure a priority for some and not others. A study of reading for pleasure pedagogies in four case study schools in communities with low-socioeconomic profiles suggests more needs to be done to challenge "pedagogy of poverty" and "recognise children's volition and social interaction as core elements of RfP" (Hempel-Jorgenson et al., 2018, p.93). Despite the schools' attempts to prioritise reading for pleasure, some teachers understanding of reading "was predominantly related to reading as technical proficiency" (p. 89). Even though the schools had designated spaces set up to encourage reading for pleasure, these spaces were under-utilised. Overall the study shows that there was a disconnect between the intent of reading for pleasure pedagogy and the understanding or delivery of this in the classroom.
Resources for reading for pleasure are also an important consideration in educational settings. For example, eBooks are becoming increasingly common in schools' provision for reading for pleasure. According to O'Connell et al. (2015) best practice for schools to support reading of digital texts includes using qualified library staff to acquire and manage eBooks, providing diversity in eBook collections that address curriculum, student learning and recreational reading needs and eBook access aligns with technology infrastructure at the school. Further research could examine other aspects of the resourcing of reading materials in educational settings, such as distribution, access, the roles of different school personnel and their practices.
3.3.2 Teachers support reading for pleasure
Teachers have an important role in contributing towards a culture of reading in their classrooms and facilitating children and tamariki's participation in that culture. They need understanding of the reading experiences children have had outside of the classroom, knowledge to support new in and out-of-school experiences and for them to identify as readers. 'Reading Teachers' are teachers who are knowledgeable about children's literature, identify as readers themselves and are able to communicate their enthusiasm and interests in reading to others (Cremin et. al, 2014). In Aotearoa New Zealand there is little knowledge about the reading of teachers, but a study of teachers in the United Kingdom sought to examine the personal reading habits of teachers, their knowledge of children's literature and the use of this knowledge in the classroom (Ibid.). The study found that primary teachers in the United Kingdom have limited knowledge of children's literature, which may compromise their ability to support children's reading, help them choose books of interest or motivate them to read. "In the Teachers as Readers study, over half those surveyed (n:1200) could not name six children's authors, 24% were unable to name a picture fiction creator and 22% couldn't name a single poet" (Cremin, 2019, p. 3).
While we do not know how teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand would fare in a study of this type, there is evidence that pedagogy develops when teachers reflect on their practice and develop themselves. In critical and multi-literacy research supported by the Ministry of Education's Teaching and Learning Research Initiative teachers' practice shifts when teachers have opportunities to reflect on their own pedagogy and practices and develop their own literacies (McDowell, 2015). Building communities of readers needs pedagogies that support reading for pleasure.
In the UKLA's Teachers as Readers study, teachers developed pedagogies of reading for pleasure that had four main characteristics (Cremin et al., 2014). These included "reading aloud to the class for pleasure (rather than for instrumental literacy teaching purposes); creating diverse, supportive and social reading environments; talking about books and making recommendations to individuals and the whole class; creating frequent opportunities for children to read independently for pleasure and giving them choices about what to read" (p.90). In Western Australia reading aloud is not typically a daily classroom practice, and "teachers need to be aware of what they are implicitly communicating, and how this can influence students' motivation, through the manner in which they use the limited time available to them within the classroom" (Merga & Ledger, 2019, p. 140). An Aotearoa New Zealand study on adolescents' perceptions on the teaching of reading it was suggested that teachers are pushed to promote reading for attainment (J. Fletcher, 2018), rather than pedagogies of reading for pleasure due to pressure from the Ministry of Education and principals to achieve to national standards. With the disestablishment of national standards in 2017 there should be more space in the primary school for teachers to establish reading for pleasure pedagogies.
3.3.3 Leading reading for pleasure in educational settings
Leaders of educational settings have a role to play in developing communities of readers, and due to their leadership responsibilities take on a role in facilitating the reading experiences of children and tamariki. They can be significant in enabling or restricting children's reading for pleasure. J. Fletcher (2018) talks about the importance of leadership in making systemic change to reading in schools. In her study leadership however seems more interested in reading achievement than reading for pleasure, and pressures from government agents and parents and whānau can reinforce that as a priority. An earlier Aotearoa New Zealand study of reading achievement in an "At Risk", low socioeconomic, multicultural intermediate school also indicated the importance of in-school leadership (in this case the Principal), in changing outcomes for students (Fletcher et al., 2013). Their authority to decide on resource allocation also made a difference with the decision to fund deliberate and well resourced professional development for school staff.
While there is a substantial body of literature on educational leadership and reading literacy development, limited attention has been paid to leadership in the reading for pleasure literature. Further insights on the leadership of reading for pleasure within schools have been developed through our case study research at Huntly College and West Auckland primary schools, and findings on leadership are included in reports of those studies. Leadership in reading for pleasure may not only be the preserve of those in senior leadership roles. If leadership is perceived as a practice rather than embodied within particular roles in the school (Freeth et al., 2014), then staff with other capacities are needed to support a community of readers. The next section considers the leadership potential of school librarians.
3.3.4. School libraries
School librarians occupy a special position from which to support and lead reading for pleasure in schools. A series of seven case studies examined the role of school librarians as leaders of reading groups outside of the main school curriculum (Cremin & Swann, 2017). Extracurricular reading groups led by six school librarians and one teacher participating in a national book award "shadowing" scheme were examined in the research. The research found five main contributions to the leadership of reading for pleasure at the schools. The school librarians offered choice to students in choosing texts and ways of working, created physically, socially and emotionally engaging spaces for reading, deliberately built positive relationships with all readers, positioned themselves in the groups as co-readers alongside the children, and created an informal yet serious reading space where children felt motivated to discuss texts even when adults were not present. Both the children and the group leaders saw a clear differentiation between reading in English class and reading in the library groups. It seemed the English class had a predetermined destination and the students found this less pleasureable reading. The librarian in these contexts was vital to faciliate a less formal environment where the students were able to read for pleasure at school.
Research on school libraries in Australia highlights how social interaction is employed by teacher librarians to foster reading for pleasure cultures within schools (Merga, 2020a). Teacher librarians engage students in talking about books with each other, with their teachers and various other individuals. The latter include "facilitating peer book promotion and recommendations, arranging for opportunities to discuss books with their authors, providing one-to-one book matching and guiding choice, organising and conducting teacher or student-led book talks and discussions, using student recommendations to support collection building, discussing reading for benefit to highlight the ongoing importance of reading, and modelling positive attitudes toward and practices of reading" (Ibid.).
It is more beneficial to academic performance to engage children and tamariki in conversations about books than other reading materials (Jerrim & Moss, 2019; Jerrim, Lopez-Agudo, & Marcenaro-Gutierrez, 2020). Yet Aotearoa New Zealand schools are increasingly asked to support their students' wellbeing as well as academic performance through the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy and changes to the National Education and Learning Priorities. Research on school librarians' roles in supporting wellbeing is inconclusive and requires further investigation (Merga, 2020b), but will require recognition of the complexities in debate on the compatibility of goals for both enhanced academic performance and student wellbeing (Clarke, 2020).
3.4 Reading publics
3.4.1 Public value of readers
The National Library of New Zealand includes in its strategic plan reading as one of three focal strands along with taonga and knowledge. On the vision for reading former National Librarian Bill Macnaught (2018) wrote:
By 2030, New Zealanders will have the literacy skills to achieve social, educational and employment success and be inspired to create new knowledge. Today approximately 40% of adult New Zealanders lack the functional literacy skills (everyday reading, writing and numeracy) that enable them to fully participate in a high productivity economy.
According to this view reading for pleasure is valuable as a way to develop the populace to participate in the economy. What we have seen throughout the review of research is that reading for pleasure benefits more than just the functional literacy of individuals. There are much broader benefits to communities and nations. These include the capacity to develop informed opinions that can guide decision-making on issues of social significance and aid the development of empathy and taking responsibility for others or for the environment (Howard, 2011). A report from National Endowment for the Arts (2007) in the United States on the state of reading, makes the argument that readers contribute substantially more to political, cultural, and social life than non-readers. For example, data from the 2002 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts indicate that "literary readers are more than twice as likely as non-readers to volunteer or do charity work" (Endowment for the Arts, 2007, p.88). Furthermore, "voting activity increases in relation to reading skill level: from 53% and 62% of Below-Basic and Basic readers, respectively, to 84% of Proficient readers" (Ibid. p.90). Declining reading within the population therefore should be of great concern to democratic government. However, the report is consistent with more recent and international data to show children and young people are spending less time reading.
UNESCO's (2017) report Fostering a culture of reading and writing assembles examples of initiatives that are developing reading and writing literacy within literate rich environments "at home, at work, in the community and in society as a whole" (p.9) in different national contexts. They argue that literacy develops and motivation for reading naturally occurs when we pay attention not just to developing the literacy of individuals but take a broader view towards developing a literate society. This means taking a multi-layered approach, drawing on all evidence we have of what is contributing to reading's decline, deliberate on what might support its vitalisation and leverage all opportunities to build a culture that naturally motivates reading.
3.4.2 Public Reading Campaigns and Infrastructure
The National Library's aspirations for a reading nation in Aotearoa New Zealand is comparable to aspirations in other national jurisdictions. National conversations on reading recognise its essential contribution to a common good, and some of these conversations are more developed than ours. Portugal and Brazil are two countries that have developed national plans for reading, Portugal in 2006 and Brazil in 2011. An analysis of the two plans in 2010 (the Brazilian plan had not yet been legislated) noted that reading was a capacity of an individual, but also contributed to national progress (Silveira, 2010). In the Portuguese plan this was extended to European progress. Silveira's critique of these national plans suggest they tapped into an impetus towards modernisation, however the vision of modernity was limited and limiting, positioning developing readers as individual units in a national reserve of capital. A more recent examination of Brazil's national plan to develop a "Brazil of Readers" looks at it in the context of the history of book promotion, suggesting that political upheavals and late investment has restricted the circulation of books (Cordeiro, 2018). It is only as the school network has developed that greater leverage towards book distribution and equalising access has begun. An evaluation of the Portuguese National Reading Plan (PNRP) focused upon its impact in schools, which the plan prioritised even though it was a public policy initiative that aimed to increase literacy levels and reading habits across its population (da Costa et al., 2015). That both programmes focused whether deliberately or incidentally on using the school system to support national plans for reading may not be coincidental. Schooling is an established infrastructure that continues to grow within most nations according to UNESCO's Global Education Monitoring Report of 2019, even while other public services decline.
A recent report from United Kingdom's think tank Demos (Hilhorst et al., 2018) entitled A Society of Readers recommends a series of programmes or interventions within four thematic areas, leveraging existing public sector infrastructure and support from charities and third sector organisations. The focal areas for Demos include reducing loneliness, support for dementia, supporting mental health and assisting in social mobility. It is not clear why these foci are elevated over others, but in most cases the proposed infrastructural change is minimal and the interventions small, perhaps in recognition of the limited capacity of public services in recent times.
Reading may not seem like a radical solution, and may strike others as too banal to be elevated to such a lofty social mission status. But as we will detail in the forthcoming chapters, it has so much latent potential for tackling big challenges like the four we discuss in this report. Books can train our brains and lessen the symptoms of dementia. They can help us foster connections with other readers and help alleviate loneliness or depression. They can open up new ways to fulfil our individual potential, spreading opportunity to workplaces, deprived communities and prisons. In short, it is no exaggeration to say that reading can transform British society (p.10).
The Demos recommendations aim to embed reading interventions in many kinds of social spaces, recognising that reading is an essential public good in self-ruling democracy. Programmes in public spaces tend to focus on young children and adults, with school catering to the literacy of school-aged children. The reading programmes on public transport in Latin American countries are more radical, recognising that a wide variety people including children use public transport (Schwartz, 2016).
The UNESCO (2017) report on reading and writing cultures grouped programmes for creating literate environments around another four themes of relevance to our times. The first focuses on using information and communication technologies (ICTS) to strengthen motivation for reading. National data from the United States indicated that the decline in children and young people's reading was associated with time outside of school increasingly taken up with media engagement (National Endowment for the Arts, 2007). Time spent reading was also punctuated by media and technology use, described as a multitasking behaviour where reading is one activity that fits into a lifestyle where boundaries between everyday activities, work, leisure and social obligations are unclear. The impact of an interrupted approach to reading is uncertain, but there are concerns that the experience of reading punctuated by diversion and at the expense of engagement reduces "the reader's experience and enjoyment of a literary work" (p.44). Since 2007 ICT usage is more commonplace, but technologies are developing to foster deeper engagement through augmenting printed media (Danaei et al., 2020), and pedagogies are developing to respond better to a multitasking environment (Burnett & Merchant, 2018).
Other programmes for creating a literate environment reported by UNESCO focus on intergenerational approaches. These may be development projects offered by non-governmental, non-profit organisations such as a project drawing on the recollections of community elders in Nepal to prompt children's storytelling or offering programmes of support for pre-schoolers and their parents (who may have had little schooling) in Ethiopia (UNESCO, 2017). Or some projects are offered through a country's existing infrastructure, like the health or prison system. For example, Reach Out and Read is an intergenerational programme in the United States where paediatricians promote literacy during primary health care of children from low-income and migrant families (Zuckerman & Needlman, 2020). Paediatricians actively encourage parents to engage their children in "enjoyable, language- and affect-rich interaction that involves a book" (p.1).
3.4.3 Libraries for Reading Publics
Libraries have a unique role in building communities of readers and supporting reading for pleasure. Like schools, prisons, and hospitals public libraries are part of the civic infrastructure, often supported by public funds, and therefore could be better resourced and more enduring than intervention programmes or more precarious forms of organisation; and even more than schools they have a special interest in supporting reading. Furthermore, they may be able to support reading in ways that classrooms do not. Goulding et al.'s (2018) study of storytime programmes in Aotearoa New Zealand urban public libraries examined them from the perspective of early literacy skill development: print motivation, phonological awareness, vocabulary, narrative skills, print awareness, and letter knowledge. In the discussion they suggest that the programme parallels the "bedtime story ritual observed in middle-class mainstream communities" (p. 207) and hypothesised that it will contribute similar benefits to school literacy because children will be more familiar with the ways of school. Yet, if they reproduce the cultural relations of a stereotypical middle-class family they may not be creating an environment that caters to differences in tamariki and children. Simpson et al. (2020) provide an example of exclusion within Australian library early reading programmes; "parents of typically developing children reported more frequently attending the library compared with parents of children who have autism" (p. 79). There is also the risk that engagement programmes in libraries become determined by the priorities of schooling. Lopez et al. (2017) report that public libraries in the United States are extending their family engagement beyond early literacy programmes to school-aged children, for example, by offering summer learning programmes. Notably these are described as learning and not recreational reading programmes. Whether library reading programmes in New Zealand are similarly framed by schooling requires further research, but there are models elsewhere that deliberately approach reading from the mindset of building a reading culture rather than preparing individual children for schooling.
Bookbabies was a programme offered through Flemish public libraries in Belgium for families with young babies (Vanobbergen et al., 2009). The parents in the programme "get a set of (carefully selected) books to read from, as well as a book voucher, a postcard and a poster of the project, together with a booklet containing reading tips and a list of other useful books for their children, presented in a linen bag displaying the Bookbabies logo", and at "the same time, the libraries involved developed numerous initiatives related to the programme" (p. 278). Research on the perceptions of the parents suggested participation in the programme had convinced them of the importance of building a culture of reading from the time when children are babies. That the programme focused on pleasure and enjoyable interactions rather than speeding up the development of their children seemed to be a relief to parents. The library environment was conducive to supporting enjoyable encounters with reading whereas school home relations tend to be centred on children's performance.
Successful parents are constituted as those who are "pedagogical", that is, those who educate at home and who form partnerships with their children's schools. Parents are asked to be more and more "responsible" and are invited to turn their homes into places of training and education. They are called upon to change their parenting so as to provide their children with appropriate educational activities that have them up and running long before they enter the classroom (Vanobbergen et al., 2009, p. 286).
The Communities of Readers initiative has also placed partnership at the core of its mission. Examining the complexities of family and community influences on children's achievement Biddulph et al. (2003) argue that integrated or comprehensive programmes that address the real needs of parents and children, especially in children's early years (0 – 5 years), can significantly improve children's achievement. Such programmes may be offered through collaborative partnerships, although these are usually partnership between centre or school and family or whānau. The challenge of collaboration is that partners often have different agendas, and it is hard to equalise partners so they all get their needs met. Biddulph et al. (2003) suggest collaborations depend for their success on families being treated with dignity and respect, on the programmes adding to family cultural practices (not undermining them), on structured, specific suggestions rather than general advice, and on supportive group opportunities as well as opportunities for one-to-one contact (especially informal contact). That the National Library is engaging many different partners in some of its community projects seems quite innovative compared with reading programmes in other jurisdictions. For example, the South Dunedin community project involves national and local government agency partners as well as local iwi. Other examples of multi-agency collaborations exist, like The Big Lift in San Mateo County, California that uses a collective impact model to address the adaptive problem of the third grade achievement gap and regards library involvement as critical (Pasini, 2018); but they are not usually led by libraries. Tensions can occur within collaborations when their activity detracts from the core mission of an organisational partner. Public libraries in Britain have extended their work through collaboration with arts and cultural organisations, yet the focus of activity is more consistent with the mission of the arts groups than their own (R. Fletcher, 2019). While programmes of reading for pleasure are central to the mission of libraries, partners will have other priorities.
Reading for pleasure is a shifting, porous concept. It sometimes stands in contrast to a view of reading as functional literacy skill, yet it is also has transformed from play-based activity pursued for its own sake to a means for self-maximization and social productivity. At its best the different purposes for reading for pleasure are integrated within wider purposes for social and cultural life. Pleasure readers have higher literacy, advanced academic performance, some improved health and wellbeing outcomes, greater cultural, political, social, and economic participation and so on. Reading for pleasure has numerous benefits, yet because it is so fundamental to a vision of a good life in modern societies it would be a shame to reduce its significance to its benefits or let one benefit overwhelm another. What is also clear is that groups disadvantaged such as through discrimination or poverty are less likely to read for pleasure. If reading for pleasure is regarded just as a benefit to be accumulated and competed for, at risk is continuing marginalization of those who do not have access to its good.
This is especially the case when considering the benefits of reading for pleasure on reading literacy. Formal schooling is the dominant way that children and tamariki access support for reading, and through studies like PISA we understand that reading for enjoyment is associated with higher literacy achievement. Yet, reading achievement is largely in stasis and enjoyment in reading is in overall decline. Are pressures of schooling also contributing to changes in children and tamariki's reading for pleasure? Some evidence suggests that it is not more time taken up with schooling that is likely to be driving the change. There are subtle changes in formal education such as increased concern with educational performance and changes from a knowledge-based to inquiry curriculum that prioritizes skill over understanding that may alter how children and tamariki engage with reading both within and outside of school. Greater disparities will likely emerge between children and tamariki if school reading literacy interventions are designed foremost to enhance performance or come at the expense of encouraging all to read for pleasure.
The research evidence for numerous benefits of reading for pleasure is mounting, but how to promote and distribute these benefits to all is less established. There is international research on reading for pleasure pedagogies, but limits to what is known about supporting these pedagogies. For example, there is limited knowledge about leadership of reading for pleasure. There is even less knowledge of the significance of different physical spaces or cultural environments on reading. The international literature suggests reading for pleasure is of significance for Aotearoa New Zealand children and tamariki, but ideas from other places need to be evaluated and perhaps reconsidered for local conditions. Areas to investigate further through a national agenda include the gaps in the international literature as well as the reading identities and knowledge of teachers in schools and kura, pedagogies that support reading for pleasure for diverse cultural communities, pedagogies that address socio-economic effects on reading, reading outside of school (in home or other environments like youth groups, on marae, peer groups, churches, digital environments and so on) and how to promote it, school and public library support for reading of school-aged children and tamariki, and partnership working across agencies and interests to support reading.
There is some evidence accruing that digital technologies are taking up time once spent solely on reading books. Sometimes digital technologies displace the time spent reading print materials. Sometimes print materials and digital technologies are used consecutively, raising concern that digital technologies distract concentration in reading. While digital technologies facilitate some kinds of reading, and some digital technologies like eBooks are designed to facilitate reading, they generally do not support the same kinds of sustained, engaged reading as printed books. Work is underway to develop technologies that augment and support the engagement that occurs through novel reading to create a 21st century version of reading for pleasure. Yet engaging individuals as if reading a novel is not the only challenge presented by technologies to making the distribution of reading more equitable.
Digital life is a connected life, made up of continual social interactions. While reading for pleasure can make significant contributions to profound social interaction its benefits are often perceived as benefits to individuals and as an isolated activity. This perception is likely reinforced when reading for pleasure is defined as an activity of individual free will or portrayed in schools as spending time alone with a book. Schooling all children and tamariki in freedom may appear to be in their best interests yet focusing on individual liberty hides the significance to their happiness and wellbeing of interdependencies. For example, reading for pleasure seen as individual freedom may be undesirable or seem unattainable to members of a community where collectivity is valued highly. This may be in a digitally connected world but also within communities strong in communitarian values or a strong sense of social responsibility. More might be done to make visible the inherently social nature of reading for pleasure and its benefits to an inclusive, pluralistic, and just society. Inequities in the distribution of reading for pleasure especially need to be addressed.
Research currently provides a very incomplete picture of how to support reading for pleasure in Aotearoa New Zealand, but it is suggesting some directions for recognizing the collective good of reading through policy and public service. School dominates as a means for addressing uneven distribution of reading, but the task is too big for schools alone and other public and community resources may be employed. Those that stand out from the literature review findings include supporting the publication of engaging and relevant reading materials; resourcing public and school libraries in their role as transitional spaces of reading for pleasure between the life of children and tamariki within and outside-of school; and developing programmes that build supportive networks for reading through collective impact models or multi-agency working.
4. Insights from the literature review for a national agenda on reading
In this final section of the report, we identify the implications of our literature review for the broader aspirations of the National Library, that is a national conversation on reading towards the aim of a nation of readers. These insights are examined in the context of
4.1 Reading for pleasure
- Reading for pleasure is one of several terms that have been used to describe reading that is absorbing, potentially to the point of complete preoccupation, for the reader (Nell, 1988; Garces et al., 2018; Paris & McNaughton, 2010).
- Early use associated this form of reading with play activity that is pursued for its own sake, but its associations have changed and therefore reading for pleasure is no longer regarded as for pleasure alone.
- The concept of reading for pleasure in Aotearoa New Zealand has been influenced significantly by literacy debates from the United Kingdom, in which official definitions associate the term with individual freedom (Clark and Rumbold, 2006; DfE, 2012) and counter-discourses align with social engagement through concepts like pluralism and participation (Craft, 2011).
- Individual benefits of reading for pleasure include improved school achievement (Jerrim & Moss, 2019), cognitive function (Sullivan & Brown, 2015), psychological wellbeing (Mak & Fancourt, 2020a), healthy behaviours (Mak & Fancourt, 2020b), and social inclusion (Wilhelm & Smith, 2016).
- While longitudinal international comparative studies of children's reading indicate enjoyment of reading is declining, there is little other research that examines their reading for pleasure in Aotearoa New Zealand, and further research on purposes for and experiences of reading would be valuable.
- Studies of reading from the adult population of Aotearoa New Zealand suggest that even when time spent reading increases through digital engagement, enjoyment of reading is declining in younger age groups.
- Reading for pleasure is motivated by others within cultural contexts and physical environments where reading is valued and promoted through real and virtual interactions with significant people and sometimes non-human influences.
- Books provided to children and tamariki may stigmatize or exclude some identities, including Pacific and Māori cultural identities, and some evidence suggests that while books enhance academic achievement complex oral language interactions between Māori mothers and their tamariki may be stronger in supporting cognitive development (Neha et al., 2020).
- When making their own selections older children and tamariki blur the lines between different media to discover and engage in the things they are interested in, yet not all media are of equal value to development, for example, reading of print media novels has a stronger correlation with enhanced cognitive skills than other kinds of fiction texts.
4.2 Communities of readers
- Communities are more than a collection of individual people (Studdert & Walkerdine, 2016), and when talking about communities of readers categories that appear natural like readers or literacy are changeable social and cultural products that are defined by "interested parties, multiple activities, and different goals and circumstances" (Lave, 2009, p.204).
- Regarding communities of readers as variable and guided by multiple and sometimes contested activities and goals helps with understanding the totality of a community of readers; they are more than entities that support individual cognition, behaviours, or emotions (Cremin et al., 2014) or the exercise of free will (Clark and Rumbold, 2006; Wilhelm, 2016).
- In research the community in the term communities of readers usually refers to communities in classrooms and schools, sometimes extending to libraries and home, although a broader concept appears in some research from the United States where it describes readers who interact in a social circle to discuss books and motivate each other's interest in reading (Strommen, & Mates, 2004, p.193), yet even this definition does not adequately account for multiple interests, goals and contentions within communities.
- Parental cultural capital is not evenly spread throughout different communities yet is very influential on children's reading, especially the accumulated capital from education, but also the amount of time they can spend with their children, take them to libraries, read to them or take part in school activities (Sullivan & Brown, 2015; J. Fletcher, 2018).
- Children and tamariki are members of many different communities and perceiving them as belonging to a single community of readers may lead to differences that are valued in one context being discounted or marginalised in another, such as differences between school and home knowledges, dis/ability, lingual differences, or ethnicities (Jackson, 2016; Simpson et al., 2020; Rona and McLachlan, 2018).
4.3 Communities of readers in formal educational settings
- Reading for pleasure appears in both Te Whāriki and the New Zealand Curriculum, but reading activities in early childhood centres, schools or even at home have other goals for reading different from enjoyment, and these other priorities can dominate children and tamariki's reading even during time set aside for reading for pleasure.
- The priority to raise literacy attainment can overwhelm attempts to support reading for pleasure through pedagogy and curriculum for schools in communities with low-socioeconomic profiles.
- According to Cremin et al. (2014) "reading teachers" motivate reading through their own knowledge and enthusiasm, are knowledgeable about children's literature, identify as readers themselves and can communicate their enthusiasm and interests in reading to others.
- Pedagogies for supporting reading for pleasure include reading aloud for pleasure, creating engaging reading environments, and creating space to talk about books where readers can choose their own texts and read independently (Cremin et al., 2014), and teachers who do not make space for these kinds of activities can expect their absence to have a negative effect on students' motivation to read (Merga & Ledger, 2019).
- School leaders may also promote or restrict children and tamariki's reading for pleasure, although there is limited research on leading reading for pleasure.
- School librarians are less likely to be limited by competing priorities for children and tamariki's reading and are freer to support reading for pleasure.
4.4 Reading Publics
- Enhancing the reading engagement of the nation may have tangible effects on the capacity of its citizens for informed decision-making, empathy and taking responsibility for others or the environment.
- According to UNESCO (2017) literacy develops naturally when social policy takes a broad view and aims to develop a literate society within literate rich environments rather than put all focus on literacy interventions for individuals.
- Building a literate society through national programmes is difficult as seen in Brazil and Portugal (Silveira, 2010, da Costa et al., 2015), where the intention to develop national plans for reading that extend into public life largely defaulted to educational programmes in schools where the infrastructure is more developed and amenable to reading reform.
- Public libraries are public institutions whose mission is more closely aligned with communities of readers than other public institutions and librarians can be supported to exercise leadership across organisations and agencies in building reading cultures (Pasini, 2018).
- Public institutions are channels through which the government serves the public good, but the good of reading circulates through channels more diverse than government and public services (e.g. the publishing industry, neighbourhood book clubs, internet communities and so on) and these may also need to be engaged to foster the collective good of reading for pleasure.
- There is a risk that library programmes become determined by the priorities of schools or other partners when working in partnership.
- There is a dearth of evidence on public benefits to Aotearoa New Zealand of children and tamariki's reading for pleasure or how to achieve public benefits other than through individual acquisition of literacy and educational attainment in systems of schooling.
1 — Formerly known as New Zealand Book Council.
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AUT University School of Education Communities of Readers Research Team
Principal investigator: Ruth Boyask
Co-investigators: Celeste Harrington, John Milne, Daniel Couch
Research assistants: Chris Wall, Daniel Badenhorst, Bradley Smith
Advisory group: Andrew Gibbons (Professor AUT University School of Education), Kate Irvine (Community of Readers Programme Manager), Jo Buchan (Senior Specialist Developing Readers, National Library of New Zealand)
Corresponding author: Ruth Boyask firstname.lastname@example.org
Suggested Citation: Boyask, R., Wall, C., Harrington, C., Milne, J., Couch, D. (2021). Reading for Pleasure: For the Collective Good of Aotearoa New Zealand. National Library of New Zealand.
Keywords: reading for pleasure, communities of readers, reading in Aotearoa New Zealand, National Library of New Zealand, children's reading
21 September 2021