Over 11,500 children and young people across Victoria have set a new summer reading record, logging 133,885 books in this year’s Big Summer Read.
‘That’s an increase of nearly forty per cent – or over 37,000 books – on last year’s result,’ says Dr Angela Savage, Chief Executive Officer of Public Libraries Victoria (PLV), which runs the statewide campaign.
Big Summer Read, delivered through Victoria’s public libraries from 1 December to 31 January each year, aims to arrest what is known as the ‘summer slide’, a loss of reading proficiency as high as 40 per cent that happens when kids do not read over the summer holidays.
‘The summer slide hits hardest in areas of socio-economic disadvantage,’ says Dr Savage. ‘By contrast, studies have found that children who read as few as six books over summer can maintain their reading level. Public libraries are ideally placed to put the books kids want to read in front of them for free.’
Stig Wemyss, actor and narrator of the popular Treehouse Books, is Big Summer Read’s ambassador. ‘There’s so much technology in the world that is designed to steal our children’s attention,’ Wemyss says. ‘I see it as our responsibility to find ways to excite children about literature because we know that children who read and listen to books, have a better vocabulary, a greater thirst for knowledge and a much stronger capacity to retain information.’
‘The benefits of reading really are amazing,’ adds Christine Vandor, co-convenor of PLV’s Children and Youth Services Special Interest Group. ‘Simply put, young people who regularly read for pleasure do better at school in all subjects, regardless of their parents’ level of education.’
Young readers also submitted 5,715 book reviews as part of the Big Summer Read challenge. Reviews posted by Maryborough Regional Library on Instagram attracted feedback from the featured authors in Australia and overseas.
‘It was a very good book,’ writes nine-year-old Connor of The 143-Storey Treehouse. ‘I read it very fast. I’m not sure if it was me or the book, but it was still very good.’
Big Summer Read is supported by the Victorian Government, sponsored by Bolinda Publishing and BorrowBox, and delivered in partnership with the School Library Association of Victoria. Statewide prizes of book vouchers and book packs were awarded in partnership with Readings Books.