Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Boys, Books, Blokes and Bytes

Academic journal article Australasian Public Libraries and Information Services

Boys, Books, Blokes and Bytes

Article excerpt

A community, school, public library partnership pilot program to encourage adolescent boys to read was delivered in two different communities in rural and outer metropolitan Melbourne. It was developed by the Centre for Youth Literature and funded by the Victorian Department of Education and Training. A shortened version of the Boys, books, blokes and bytes project report. For the full report contact Paula Kelly pkelly@slv.vic.gov.au. Paper presented at Learning futures conference, Adelaide SA 9-10 March 2007.

The 2006 Boys, books, blokes and bytes pilot program sought to establish whether direct intervention based on a principle of engagement, action and relevance could improve or change attitudes to reading for adolescent boys in the middle years of schooling. It was developed in response to Australian research over the last decade indicating that the literacy standards of boys are on average lower than that of girls on local and international literacy assessments. In 2006 the State Library of Victoria's Centre for Youth Literature and the Victorian Department of Education and Training delivered a program addressing this identified need to improve boys' literacy skills and maximise student outcomes as a key priority, aligned with the Blueprint for government schools reform agenda.

The project focused on the recommendations outlined in a variety of reports including

* the Department of Education, Science and Technology (DEST) Boys, literacy and schooling report (1) 2002

* the Centre for Youth Literature Young Australians reading report (2) 2001

* the Children's and young people's reading habits and preferences report (3) 2005

* the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Education and Training Boys: getting it right report (4) 2002

* the DEST Teaching reading report (5) 2005.

These reports identify the ways boys learn best as well as suggesting a number of strategies to promote reading for pleasure. Incorporating these ideas in the development and delivery of the program has meant a focus on graphic and electronic forms of literature, active and dramatic literacy engagement activities, and real life literacy contexts. The strategies implemented aimed to actively create a culture in which the boys were encouraged to be enthusiastic readers by

* engaging them with reading through the inclusion of personal interests

* involving other males--teachers, community members, fathers

* facilitating the support of parents in encouraging reading in the home.

Project outcomes

The project was developed and delivered by the State Library of Victoria's Centre for Youth Literature (CYL) team, in support of the 2006 Victorian national literacy and numeracy week program. Its primary aim was to implement strategies to improve positive behaviours and attitudes to reading for adolescent boys. The pilot Boys, books, blokes and bytes project was delivered from July--December in two cluster areas, one in regional Victoria and one in outer metropolitan Melbourne. It was designed to encourage adolescent boys to read more books and to read more widely, delivering a program and materials that

* reflected boys' interests and ways of learning

* involved male role models from the family, local and wider community

* was built on home/school/community partnerships to support a reading culture for boys.

Target

The project targeted adolescent boys in the middle years of schooling years 5-9. Two cluster groups, comprising one secondary school and several primary schools, were identified for participation through DE&T regional officers. The pilot clusters nominated focused on schools in the Melton and Drouin areas as well as some initial work investigated with schools in the Sunshine and Altona Meadows areas of the western metropolitan region. Overall 10 schools and 120 boys were involved within the western metropolitan and Gippsland regions. …

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