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Reading Matters

Mr Callum Wilson —

Results from the recent reading survey

Results from recent reading survey

I wanted to share with you some findings from a survey approximately two-thirds of students at the College completed recently. This survey was based around reading, particularly reading for pleasure. We know empirically that reading is a critical life skill and that, like all skills, it can be improved with coaching and practice. The more reading a student does in their own time the stronger their reading becomes, the more confidence they have in reading, and the better they succeed in multiple areas. This is a positive loop that we are very much keen on getting all our boys into. Reading even just 30 minutes per week in their own time adds up over the year, and can lead to serious benefits.

However, when asked in the recent survey when they last got out a book from any library the responses were a little disheartening. Almost two-thirds of senior students responded as not recalling. Juniors were not quite so dire with just over one-third not recalling the last time they were issued a book. Even allowing for some students to be reading on a device rather than from a book this is rather low. 

Senior Students' responses to "Last Book Issue" survey — Image by: Mr C Wilson

Junior Students' responses to "Last Book Issue" survey — Image by: Mr C Wilson

Furthermore, when asked how often they would spend reading for pleasure in a typical week the responses were as expected considering the findings above on book issues. Almost half of senior responses showed they spend no time reading for pleasure at all, whilst a quarter indicated they spend approximately 30 minutes per week. Again, junior responses were more encouraging with one-third claiming they spend no time and one-third claiming they spend 30 minutes reading for pleasure per week. When we consider that time spent reading independently is a determining factor for areas such as academic achievement this is a worrying trend. Though we accept that senior students might be more time poor than juniors for various reasons, we must believe that all students, regardless of age, could find 30 minutes per week for independent reading.   

Senior Students' responses to "Time Per Week Reading For Pleasure" survey — Image by: Mr C Wilson

Junior Students' responses to "Time Per Week Reading For Pleasure" survey — Image by: Mr C Wilson

The final finding from the survey I wanted to share, and potentially the most pertinent for you, is the obstacles students identify as keeping them from reading for pleasure. A feature for seniors here is twofold – a feeling of not having the time and a preference to be on a device. I note the irony here in that students could allow themselves some time for reading if they sacrificed a small amount of time on a device or before a screen. For juniors this issue was not quite so dramatic, but does still feature as the second greatest obstacle. The other concern voiced here from both groups was their difficulty in sourcing the type of texts that interest them. This is an issue that we are working very hard on here at the College, spearheaded by our fantastic new librarian Chrissie Walker.  

Senior Students' responses to "Obstacles To Reading For Pleasure" survey — Image by: Mr C Wilson

Junior Students' responses to "Obstacles To Reading For Pleasure" survey — Image by: Mr C Wilson

Implications for Parents

We are not about suggesting to you how to parent. However, it would be remiss of us not to share findings and give suggestions for your consideration. Below are such suggestions you may wish to consider.

  • Take an active interest in the reading habits of your young men. Urge them to read and speak to them about what they read.
  • Setup device-free moments in the home environment and/or set aside a dedicated time in the week for reading. This need not be a long time or a daily event – it might be a 30-minute slot twice per week.
  • Consider your own reading habits and how, as a role model, you are either promoting or hindering these same habits in the young men at home.
  • Consider incentives you could implement to encourage independent reading.

If you wanted to read a little more on the benefits of independent reading this article is most informative. Other, slightly less dense articles can be accessed here and here.

Read – Review – Win Prizes

In our quest to increase both the number of students reading for pleasure and the time they spend doing it, we are offering students rich rewards for sending book reviews to Chrissie the College librarian. By reading and reviewing they receive a BLE point and go in the draw for clothing and food vouchers. The first lot of prizes will be drawn after the holidays.

If you had questions on any of the material covered here then please do not hesitate to contact me on cwilson@stbedes.school.nz

Mr Callum Wilson