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It’s the pleasure principle

If Booktown’s children’s programme inspires young people to pursue one of the many ways writing can be a career or hobby, then the organisers will have done their job.

The aim is to engage students to think about literacy in different ways and encourage reading for pleasure as opposed to assessments, programme co-ordinator Melissa Mead said.

Last year’s inaugural Young Readers Programme was timely, given a report released about the country’s falling youth literacy rates.

The 2023 programme involves 32 events – from poetry to playwriting – for preschool to secondary school all over Wairarapa.

The presenters for this year’s programme are a mix of local and national talent.

“We are incredibly lucky with the presenters we have this year. It is important that students can see themselves in those that are presenting,” Mead said.

“The more diverse our pool of writers and storytellers are, the more people we are going to engage.”

The events aren’t exclusively about books, either – there’s also a focus on digital engagement with literacy to demonstrate how to reach different audiences in different ways.

NCEA’s proposed changes to how literacy is taught reflect worrying statistics that indicate one in five 15-year-olds are not meeting the lowest reading benchmark, while a further 20 per cent are only achieving at the most basic level.

It’s the intent of the Young Readers Programme to provide students with more opportunities to show – and increase – their aptitude for the subject.

“The classics don’t always resonate with young people, and we are moving further away from it each year by offering a wider range of options,” said Mead, who noted it’s not about making it easier but, rather, being more flexible for diverse students.

According to Booktown operations manager Mary Biggs, the funding the annual event receives is what sets it apart from similar events across the country.

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