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Teen Reading Matters

Senior School Reading

One article in this week’s SMH, Good Weekend, caught my attention. The bold headline “Did Tolstoy really need 783 pages to get Anna Karenina to the train station?” (this story is part of the 29 October edition of Good Weekend), seemed to challenge all that we know about “The Classics.” I mean, who is brave enough to question a GOAT writer?

The author, Tim Elliott, went on to write: As with any art, taste in books is hopelessly subjective, and not just among readers, but among ages: who hasn’t revisited a favourite book years after reading it, only to wonder what you liked about it in the first place?

I am definitely guilty of this. Reading certain books because we are told we should, doesn’t always work.

Students enjoying some quiet reading time in the library

In Week 3, many Years 7, 8, 9 and 10 students (and myself), participated in a reading survey coordinated by Mr Bill Roberts and run by Deakin University entitled “Discovering a ‘Good Read’: Pathways to Reading for Australian Teens in a Digital Age.”

The purpose of this research project resonates deeply; music to the ears of teachers and parents/carers of teenage boys.

This project aims to support the school, library, and book industries to increase teenagers’ recreational reading. Matching the right book to the right reader is essential to increase young people’s motivation to read. Expected outcomes include strategies that libraries, schools, and the book industry can use to promote Australian content for young adults, and equip young people to participate more fully in the social and economic benefits of pleasure reading.”

Reading for pleasure

The tragic readers among us are already well aware of the benefits of reading for enjoyment, apart from the academic and social benefits.

According to Alex Quigley, author of Closing the Reading Gap, Reading in 2022 is seen as something that happens in the Library, in English class, after other work is done, a kind of pleasurable bolt-on, like some sort of academic ice-cream treat.

Have we as a society lost sight of the joy of reading for pleasure?

These are concerns many of us share at the College and so we have made it our goal, not only to encourage our students to engage in reading for pleasure, but to ensure that students recognise this joy for themselves.

How we do that will be directly informed by the data from the Deakin University survey. I extend a sincere ‘Thank you’ to the boys who participated actively and responded truthfully.

Stay tuned for the results.

Reading Suggestions

In the meantime, here are three suggestions for students to simply sit back and enjoy, right now.

Years 7-8: Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief by Katrina Nannestad

Rabbit, Soldier, Angel, Thief

Years 9-10: Thunder Head by Neal Shusterman

Thunder Head

Years 11-12: (or any Sci-Fi fan), Dune by Frank Herbert