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Happy New Year… of Reading!

As the festive season comes to an end and the new year begins, I thought it would be a good opportunity to take a look at this year’s chosen focus for Australians. In the past we have had the Year of the Volunteer, Year of the Surf Lifesaver and Year of the Girl Guide. I’m not exactly sure how the topic is selected or by whom, but it is always something that will help improve our life in this country and is usually in support of a non-profit organisation. Well, 2012 is National Year of Reading (NYR).

Believe it or not, illiteracy is a big problem in Australia. Perhaps not for you, as you are obviously reading this blog, but research shows that almost half of all Australian’s cannot read well enough to cope with everyday life. According to the NYR website, “There are 46% of Australians who can’t read newspapers; follow a recipe; make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle.” (Yes, that sounds quite high for a country like ours, doesn’t it. That’s why I looked into it a little further – click here for more details.)

One of Graeme Base's most well known books.

The program’s National Patron is William McInnes; an Australian actor and writer, possibly best known for his work in Blue Heelers and Sea Change. Graeme Base is one of their National Ambassadors – an incredible author whose work has influenced the imaginations of many children – and provided many hours of reading fun for me personally throughout my childhood.

So, the NYR has three main goals that it hopes to achieve throughout the year with its planned activities and events.

  1. For all Australians to understand the benefits of reading as a life skill and a catalyst for well-being;
  2. To promote a reading culture in every home; and
  3. To establish an aspirational goal for families, of parents and caregivers sharing books with their children every day.

In addition to the above goals, the NYR also hopes to raise awareness (and money) for two wonderful non-profit organisations that deal with the issue of illiteracy; The Pyjama Foundation and the Indigenous Literacy Foundation.

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation supports some of Australia's most remote communities.

I will look at the work of these two organisations and some of their fantastic fundraising initiatives in later posts, but in the meantime I hope you will take a moment to visit the websites linked in this blog – especially the National Year of Reading. I know you understand the importance of reading and how crucial it is in life, so hopefully you will make an effort to do something this year – even it is something as simple as donating a few of your own books to a local community group.

And for now, I wish you a prosperous and fund-filled 2012.

See you in the pond,

The Fish Chick.

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