Mentone Girls’ Librarian Kirk Owen offers his expert advice.
Reading expands our knowledge of the world around us and increases our general intelligence. It opens our minds to new ideas and ways of thinking. Reading broadens our knowledge of words and the way to use them as well as introducing us to new words within a given language. In a world that at present has slowed right down, people are finding renewed pleasure in spending some quality time reading. Some people are discovering this for the very first time. Mentone Girls’ Librarian Kirk Owen offers his expert advice on making reading an enjoyable part of our everyday life.
Reading 10 minutes a day can increase relaxation and reduce stress
How many people, after a hard day’s work, have picked up a book or magazine to read and after a few pages, fallen into a pleasant sleep? Reading can transport our minds to other places or even new worlds that help to break up our stressful thoughts from homework or school tests. I would say that we should be reading for at least 10 minutes each day and ideally for half an hour or more. Mind you, when one is reading for pleasure, time is irrelevant.
Reading at home is modelling
The one piece of advice I can give to encourage reading at home is modelling it on a daily basis. Children learn from the adults in their lives. Parents are a child’s first role models. Children pick up their speech patterns, their manner of behaviours, their likes and dislikes from the adults in the household. If the adults in the household do not read then the children will not read. Demonstrate yourself reading in plain sight (even a newspaper) to your child and then encourage them to read a text they have alongside you.
Allow children to read something they will enjoy
We can make reading more enjoyable for our older students too by having time set aside for reading as a hobby and not as a school requirement. Allowing them to read whatever they want such as books, comics, magazines or a newspaper will aid this. It does not matter what they choose to read as long as they enjoy it. Often students will say that they are too busy to read but what they really mean is that their leisure time is too taken up with other more pleasurable things such as social media, to ‘waste’ time reading. By allocating specific blocks of time for reading (both at school and at home) and allowing them to read whatever they want will slowly develop the habit of reading for pleasure and once that is achieved the job is done. Many people believe that reading for pleasure equals reading fiction but this is not necessarily so. We can get just as much pleasure from reading a nonfiction book as we would from a work of fiction. Sometimes we are attempting to force a square peg in to a round hole if we insist that in reading for pleasure a student can only read fiction.
Read in a way that suits you
It really depends upon the individual when it comes to whether we read books or eBooks or if we prefer audio-books. Some people prefer to have a physical book to hold in their hands. Some like the smell of a ‘real’ book. Some prefer the convenience of reading on a device because it is easy to carry around and one can store a lot of books on it – especially when going on holidays. Others obtain great enjoyment from listening to a book read aloud as an audio book.
Utilise the Library’s resources
The library has a wide selection of books and e-books to suit just about every need. This assists students in being able to read widely. I know of girls in Senior School who only like to read books that make them cry whilst there are others who only want to read books that thrill them. Some like romance and others like contemporary fiction. Among Junior School girls many like books about fairies, unicorns, puppies or horses. Then there are others who really enjoy (age appropriate) fantasy or murder mysteries where the girls are detectives. Meanwhile there are girls who only want to read nonfiction books about horses, outer space, dinosaurs, baking, mythology and countries. All can found within the walls of the library (both physically and online) and if they find that a book they really want to read is not in the library they need only write down the details on our ‘Books for the Library’ chart and we will see if we can obtain them for the collection.
In these altered times however, our wonderful library is closed. So how can students still get books to read? The answer is e-books. By using the School’s Soro App girls can browse the large collection of e-books, online audio books, and online ‘read alouds’ that we have to offer. If there is something that we do not have they can send us an e-mail and we will see if we are able to add it to our online collection.
Mr Owen’s current favourite books:
Children’s picture book ‘Strega Nona’ by Tomie de Paolo.
Adult book ‘Crown and Mitre’ by Robert O’Neill. A novel about the English Civil War that I inherited from my father. Mystery. Intrigue. A touch of romance.
I am reading a work of nonfiction: ‘The Northern Crusades’ by Eric Christiansen.