Find your happy place in a reading power hour
How often do you read for pleasure? Every night, on weekends, summer holidays? Or, do you find you are so pressed for time that even if you buy books, you devote little time to reading them?
If you fall into the latter category, you’re not alone. According to a 2017 Survey of Australian Reading Habits undertaken by Macquarie University in partnership with the Australian Council for the Arts, a significant percentage (68 percent) of Australian said they don’t read enough.
However, many Australians say they love to read. In fact, 95 per cent of us enjoy reading books for pleasure.
Seems the rub then is not about our interest in reading but about the time we think we can give to it. Perhaps the way back to reading more regularly is to read for a short period at a time.
On Thursday 20 September, thousands of Australians will be taking time out to read for just an hour in an event promoted by the Australian Public Library Alliance called Australian Reading Hour to helps us back to reading regularity.
The premise is simple – pick up a book, any time of the day or night, and read for 60 minutes. You might while away your reading hour by starting on one of the books you haven’t had time for; or by reading an Australian short story or something outside of your usual choice of genre. You might want to read to someone else – such as a funny story to, or with, a child; or read the news to an elderly parent or grandparent. You might even tackle a poem, a play, an investigative piece of journalism.
But whatever you choose – read. Undistracted. For an hour.
We asked three reading enthusiasts from the Faculty of Human Sciences about the importance of reading and what book they will be picking up during Australian Reading Hour.
What will you be reading during Australian Reading Hour?
Professor Garry Falloon, Department of Educational Studies: Mostly likely I will be taking some time away from academic reading and burying my nose in Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd by Nick Mason, the band’s drummer. I’m a big fan of these 1970s’ and ‘80s’ rockers – they made some fantastic music, and it’s great reading about their motivations, trials and tribulations.
Dr Saskia Kohnen, Clinical Director, Macquarie University Reading Clinic: I will probably start reading Where the Trees Were by Inga Simpson.
Linda Schofield, General Manager, Faculty of Human Sciences: I’ll be reading Kate Forsyth’s Beauty in Thorns. Kate comes from a family of fabulous Australian female writers (three who studied at Macquarie!).
What book changed your life, made you think differently or influenced you in a way that remains in your psyche to this day – and why?
Garry Falloon: Seymour Papert’s Mindstorms: Children, computers and powerful ideas. I read this when I was teaching primary kids in New Zealand and computers were just starting to come into our classrooms. I loved it because Papert (a brilliant MIT professor) offered a counter view on what technology had to offer learning. He went against the grain, arguing that computers were tools to think with – not simply teaching machines.
Saskia Kohnen: This would have to be a book called Das Huhn legt ein Ei (The hen lays an egg). It’s the first book I read independently, in my first language. The riveting story line is succinctly summarised in the title. I still remember the pride and joy of reading the book - all by myself! I also remember that it was actually hard work. This book was a milestone to reading everything I’ve read since.
Linda Schofield: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Set in Nazi Germany, I love the humanity of this book in the face of the grim realities of war. The book remains with me because of the big emotional impact it had on me when I read it – it made me laugh, and cry floods of tears.
Why is reading important?
Garry Falloon: Reading is essential to link one to the world of information – the building blocks of knowledge. Whether this be online or offline, it’s an important way we come to know about our world. It can also help us to relax and take stock of things – to reflect and remember, reminisce and recollect. It’s great therapy in a hectic world!
Saskia Kohnen: In a literate society, reading is a fundamental skill towards academic success and employment. Reading (and being read to) develops children’s language skills. Reading is a major vehicle to acquire knowledge. Reading is also important socially. Being able to read our texts, emails and social media feeds allows us to connect with others. For me, it’s also an excellent form of entertainment. I do love reading.
Linda Schofield: Reading takes you to new places both real and imagined and helps you develop a richer understanding of the world we live in. Reading helps you connect with others, too: I connect with my daughter when we read together and with my book club friends when we talk about a book.
The Reading Clinic at Macquarie University provides research-based assessments and intervention for children, adolescents and adults with reading and spelling difficulties, and professional development for teachers and clinicians supporting those with poor reading and spelling. Visit the Clinic’s webpage to find out about their services.