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Does reading books still matter in today’s world?

Does reading books still matter in today’s world?

Does reading books still matter in today’s world?

Popular children’s writers including the author of ‘Possum Magic’, Mem Fox are backing a campaign to support school libraries. 

The traditional school library is under threat. We all know that kids and teens today are reading fewer and fewer books as games, apps and videos available 24/7 vie for their attention. Anyone with school students will also know that much of their research for assignments is often now done online.

So where does that leave the school library? A recent study found that 60% of children still read a book weekly but that number is falling year on year. School libraries are seen to contain fewer and fewer books, and many are replacing books with computer terminals as it is seen to be more up-to-date.

Of the 9,000 or so schools in Australia, almost all have a library of some description, but they vary enormously in terms of staffing, facilities and resources. A less fortunate school might just have a few shelves of books and a member of staff whose responsibility it is to look after them, as part of a his or her teaching or administration role. Figures from the Australian Council for Educational Research show the number of teacher-librarians working in primary schools fell by 76 per cent from 5600 to just 1300 between 2010 and 2013.

Acclaimed authors including Morris Gleitzman, Mem Fox, Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton are backing a new campaign to maintain the school library. The Students need School Libraries campaign is fighting to retain teacher-librarians in schools, where they can continue to encourage a love of reading amongst students.

Karen Clarke, Library Manager at St Patrick’s College, Wellington, NZ agrees, saying “every child that does not have access to a library is disadvantaged.” It is important that the school library of the future has not only online facilities, she says, but books as well. “Human being still like to browse, to see books, touch books, sit and read slowly and deeply. A text rich environment is still important for learning. Students like to peruse the shelves – the beauty of reading is where your reading will take you.”

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