Reading for pleasure and well-being during Youth Week (19–27 May)

As we approach Youth Week (19–27 May), it's a good time to consider how we can celebrate, value, and support our local young people. With the theme of ‘be who you want to be’, how do we contribute to well-being and sense of self?

Encouraging reading for pleasure and establishing school libraries as havens are things that can make a difference to student well-being.

Reading for pleasure and well-being. Youth Week 2018
Image by ThePixelman. CC0 1.0

Reading for pleasure

Reading for pleasure is a habit we can encourage young people to adopt that can contribute to their well-being. The emphasis here is on reading for enjoyment and entertainment, which brings a number of benefits for personal well-being. Nicola Morgan, in her article on the reading brain, discusses the benefits of reading including:

  • relaxation
  • knowledge of self
  • empathy and understanding others
  • escapism
  • mood-boosting
  • calming the mind.

Developing the habit of reading for pleasure gives readers a ‘go to’ activity to calm the mind, relax, and escape. In keeping with this year’s Youth Week theme, fiction also provides readers with the chance to connect with themselves and others through stories. A diverse range of fiction encompasses characters who come from different cultures, places, times, and face many challenges, adventures, and emotions. What are your students' ‘go to’ books to relax, make them smile, or for sharing with others?

Find out more about the benefits of reading for pleasure.

Reading for well-being

Reading for well-being is a broad term, which has developed to encompass:

  • the benefits of reading for pleasure
  • reading to be informed about health issues
  • shared reading to support emotional and social health, and
  • the benefits of reading for mental health.

Students can read for well-being to inform themselves about issues that affect them or their friends. Reading can help to give different perspectives on an issue as well as affirming you are not alone. There is an increasing range of titles published for the youth market that address many current mental health issues. The library staff, in conjunction with the school counsellor, can share and discuss useful titles which may help students.

Libraries as havens of well-being

Libraries, as places for mindfulness and well-being, are significant in a world of constant noise, media, and activity. There are times when we need to reflect, reinvigorate, and relax. The school library can be a haven of peace, with spaces to relax, unwind, and read. The library has a role to play as an inclusive space, welcoming all students and reflecting the student community through the stories, spaces, and services it provides.

Lucas Maxwell, a school librarian at Glenthorne High School, thinks:

…all school libraries are a safe place for students to rest, recharge, meet new friends and fall in love with new books. They are the well-being hub of the school.

As part of their own well-being week last year, Lucas promoted a well-being wall in the library where students shared messages of well-being and positive thinking. This is something that other school libraries could do simply and effectively with a little time and some post-it notes.

Help promote Youth Week in your school

Use the Youth Week media kit to promote this important celebration of young people in your community.

By Maxine Ramsay

Maxine is a Facilitator (National Capability) with Services to Schools based in Dunedin.

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