Communities working together get kids reading

31 May 2022: Communities working together get kids reading

A unique approach to engaging readers — building a whole community of support to encourage kids in Aotearoa to read — is seeing positive results, a report from Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa National Library of New Zealand shows.

According to the OECD, a love of reading can be more important for a child’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic background. However, in Aotearoa young people’s reading for pleasure and levels of literacy are in steady decline and not everyone has the same opportunities to develop a love of reading. How can we turn this around?

The National Library’s Pūtoi Rito Community of Readers projects set out to influence and strengthen conditions that can develop a culture of reading. Focusing on tamariki and rangatahi in early childhood through to late teens, the pilot projects took place in South Dunedin; Canterbury with Kingslea School; Kāhui Ako o Tiriwā in West Auckland; and Huntly College. The largest project, in South Dunedin, involved 120 organisations.

One of the biggest take-aways from the project’s recently released Insights Report is just how important reading role models are.

National Library’s Director of Literacy and Learning, Elizabeth Jones, says “Whānau, peers, teachers, librarians and community have huge influence as role models. They can make a difference through talking about books they have read; telling stories; sharing their own interest and joy in reading; reading with whānau of all ages; providing access to a range of great books; and being seen reading themselves.”

The more that communities surrounding tamariki and rangatahi understand their influence in creating young readers and the potential impact of reading for pleasure, the more effective they are in encouraging and supporting reading.

Elizabeth Jones says “The challenge is not all kids have easy access to the environments and support that inspire reading for pleasure including libraries, reading resources and reading role models.” Since 2019, the National Library Pūtoi Rito initiative with funding from Te Puna Foundation, has been working to address this by collaborating with local and national partners to co-create a collective approach.

Reading for pleasure has proven lifelong benefits demonstrated by national and international research. Benefits include improving literacy, knowledge and academic attainment. Reading can also support identity, personal and social development, empathy and cultural understanding. Research shows, this puts them on the road to success and wellbeing.

Phase 2 of the projects commenced in September 2021. It includes the continuation of the South Dunedin and Canterbury projects along with collaborations with some new communities.


Background information

Media contact

To arrange an interview with Elizabeth Jones or one of the community partners contact the DIA media desk.
Mobile: +64 27 535 8639