For the love of it …

hanging around

(Five year old boxer and reader ‘hanging around” at K.A.P.O.W. gym Gold Coast , Saturday 27th September,2014)

Do you love reading? I do. I believe that cultivating this passion in students is more important than worrying about which format they choose to read books (E-readers or real books – or preferably both!). In my work as a boxing coach, I tell young students the benefits of reading as well as being physically active. I am happy to have children hang around after their class and read while mum or dad is still training. I also believe – based on a recent Nielson poll- that encouraging teachers and parents to share their love of reading, must be every teacher-librarian’s (TL’s) primary goal. Here’s why:

In January this year, Nielson Book survey showed that (in the US) more teens (41%) now say they “don’t” read for fun – up from 21% in 2011. Fairly shocking statistics and one that should motivate all TL’s to do everything in their power to help reverse this trend. The action I am referring to should by no means be forced, or a solo effort. Rather, it should be an impassioned, united, sharing of an important past time we all enjoy – TL’s, teachers and family members. Here’s why:

In “Kids Books Online and Off: Changing Buying Behaviors in the Digital Age (Nielsen – Jo Henry – Jonathan Nowell, 2014)” from Publishers Launch Conferences slide thirty shows that 17% of teens strongly prefer print and 33% generally prefer print. This is more than double those who strongly prefer e-book (6%) and generally prefer ebook (15%). 28% show no preference. While data about preferences is important, as it will help guide how to spend future budgets to match our student’s preferences, our main concern still lies with the getting those who “don’t” read for fun (41%) to read in either format. From slide 24 of the same survey of 3000 people across 10 countries, information about the “The Most Important Factors in Children’s Book Discovery by Age” is revealed. This data shows that the teacher has almost twice the influence (18%) over the school librarian (10%) – who is slightly lower than the public librarian (12%) – in what children, aged seven to twelve, choose to read. Though the combined effort of teachers and librarians (public and school) is 40%, greater than the highest factor in children’s book discovery surveyed -37% – “directly from the child”. Family and friends account for a huge 27% influence on discovering a new book in this same age group. Imagine the collective influence that will be harnessed with the combined persuasive power of the TL, teachers and family members all working to spread the same sincere message – a love of reading?

Do you have any strategies that involve the TL, all teachers and family members sharing a love of reading with students? If you do, please make a comment. I would love to read them.

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Slide 30 – What Format Do Teens Prefer . Source: Neilson’s Childrens Deep Dive US, Fall 2013.

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Slide 33 – Most Important Factors in Children’s Book Discovery by Age. Source: Neilson’s Childrens Deep Dive US, Fall 2013.



Explore to your heart’s content…

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“Explore to your heart’s content”, is how Jennifer Baker (2013), describes popular social networking site Pinterest. She views the site as a great way to curate and create something that is useful to your school or wider learning community. Based on my first time using it to create a ‘board’, I think she is right. Wilkinson (2013), believes Pinterest can be used by librarians to interact with patrons and a wider community of librarians. Whilst Thornton (2012), asks ” Is your academic library pinning?”.

My intention was to curate images of things that many of today’s youth find to be of interest. To make the ‘board’ look more credible, I asked two sixteen year olds and one twelve year old their tips on ‘what is currently popular’ – to point me in the right direction. I was encouraged to find images of popular gaming consoles and on-line games. New television series from the US, anime characters and popular music artists, were also recommended. This is what I gathered:

Being a visual learner, I found the experience stimulating and fulfilling. My only frustration was caused by the decisions involved in on-line digital curation – namely which images to keep, which ones to delete. Regarding the selection of other people’s content to display, I found myself challenged by the sheer volume of choices. On reflection, I see that I was doing more than just ‘re-pinning’ or broadcasting the work of others. I found myself taking in ideas and content from these places.

One idea that strongly stuck, came after pinning Meghan Trainor’s number one song for this week, “All about that Bass”. The lyrics and video clip concern the notion of ‘body image’. It seems like a positive message to young people, though it has been criticised by McKinney (2014), for favouring larger girls at the expense of ridiculing ‘skinny’ girls. She does, however, view the clip as a possible gateway to feminism for Trainor’s fans. I think this song could be used in the curriculum, as a discussion point regarding body image and unrealistic portrayals, in many on-line images.

The discussion regarding healthy/realistic body images may need to take place during the preteen years. Tiggemann and Slater (2014), conducted a study to examine the relationship between media exposure and body image in preteenage girls. Their study concluded that: the Internet represents a potent sociocultural force among girls aged ten to twelve; and time spent on-line significantly relates to the internalisation of the thin ideal (as was time reading magazines and watching television).

Perhaps it is time to create another ‘board’, “positive on-line body images”, this time with students themselves identifying, selecting, and ‘pinning’ the images? This would be one way to further test the pedagogical potential of this site. (




Baker, J. Y. (2013). Beyond death by chocolate: USING PINTEREST PROFESSIONALLY. Knowledge Quest, 42(2), 74-77. Retrieved from


McKinney, K. (2014). “All about the bass” isn’t actually positive. Retrieved from:


Tiggemann, M., & Slater, A. (2014). NetTweens: The internet and body image concerns in preteenage girls. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 34(5), 606-620. doi:10.1177/0272431613501083


Thornton, E. (2012). Is your academic library pinning? academic libraries and pinterest. Journal of Web Librarianship, 6(3), 164


Wilkinson, Z. (2013). Oh, how pinteresting! an introduction to pinterest. Library Hi Tech News, 30(1), 1-4. doi:

Q & A with a teen bloggist.

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Recently, I chatted with a sixteen-year-old female high school student who enjoys reading, social media and blogging. I was surprised to hear how popular the practice of blogging is amongst her friendship group and impressed with her attitude toward ‘speaking out’ on social justice issues that she feels are important. Her feelings toward content presented by the mainstream media, in television news reports and newspapers, reveals suspicion and shows a developing critical awareness. The opportunity for young people to develop their own opinions, by conducting independent research into issues they view as significant, is something she considers to be highly important for herself and peers. Her most popular author at the moment is John Green (New York Time Y.A. bestseller and famous ‘vlogger’), she follows him (along with 200,000 other young people) on her preferred social media site ‘tumblr’.

Q. I hear that you own a lot of books? Is this correct?

A. Yes.

Q. How many do you estimate?

A. At least one hundred.

Q. Are you buying more?

A. I would like to but there is not enough space.

Q. What are you reading at the moment?

A. “Pride and Prejudice” for school. Then I was reading Tara Moss’s autobiography – “The Fictional Woman.”

Q. What types of books do you enjoy reading the most?

A. I quite like complex stories that are unpredictable.

Q. Any examples?

A. I quite liked the “Great Gatsby” and this autobiography. (Tara Moss)

Q. List some popular fiction books that you have also read?

A. All of: Twilight; Hunger Games; Harry Potters; Divergent. All of John Green’s books too.

Q. What is your favourite show to watch at the moment?

A. “Game of Thrones” and “Orange is the new black.”

Q. Do you watch them on youtube, television, or download?

A. Get it off my friends who download.

Q. What type of on-line reading do you enjoy?

A. “Wattpad” – unpublished authors. So I read my friends book on that, though I don’t usually read online.

Q. Are you a member of any fan clubs?

A. No.

Q. What sites do you post to?

A. Tumblr, facebook, instagram.

Q. How many followers do you have on ‘tumblr’?

A. Roughly 400.

Q. What do you blog about?

A. What ever I like – the books I like reading and social justice issues.

Q. Who’s your favourite band or musician?

A. Taylor Swift. Bastille.

Q. Where do you listen to the music you enjoy most?

A. Internet and Itunes, I don’t really use CD’s.

Q. What are the popular on-line activities amongst your friends?

A. Blogging, because it is uncensored and not distorted by media. It lets people develop an opinion on issues based on their own research – rather than what the media feeds us.

Q. How many of your friends blog?

A. All of them.

Q. Which sites?

A. Tumblr; youtube; other people’s blogs.

Q. Does your school incorporate any of the popular social media into school work?

A. In school work we don’t use media but we do use educational resources on the internet.

Q. Is there any social media that you would like to use at school?

A. Probably tumblr.

Q. Why doesn’t your school use it now?

A. Because of the national curriculum, we haven’t found a way to fit it in just yet.

Our generation is not as laid back as people may think. And we are not ignorant when it comes to social issues.

Q. Such as?

A. Women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, religious conflicts- terrorism and racial conflict.