School pupils all booked up

DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Last updated 08:24 07/08/2014
owen cawley, lake dyer
DANIEL BIRCHFIELD/ Fairfax NZ

READY, SET, READ: Waimate Centennial School pupils Owen Cawley, left, and Blake Dyer, both 5, with some of the books supplied to pupils as part of the Duffy Books in Homes programme.

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Plenty of reading is on the agenda for pupils at Waimate Centennial School.

The school has received several boxes of brand new books for its pupils to take home as part of the Duffy Books in Homes programme.

The literacy programme, founded by Once Were Warriors author Alan Duff and launched in 1995, aims to provide books to children from low decile schools around New Zealand who do not have books to enjoy in their homes.

Duff launched the programme after discovering many pupils had no access to books at home and little interest in reading.

Children can chose two books from a list twice a year, which are supplied by Scholastic NZ, with a fifth book provided through Government funding.

With a role of 173 pupils, it means pupils receive 865 books a year.

Waimate Centennial School principal Barry Jury said the programme's slogan, 'it's cool to read and cool to achieve', means much more than picking up a book.

"It's not just about reading but achieving as well and having a positive attitude towards books."

While Jury has noticed an increase in pupils' interest in reading, he said it is not easy to tell if the programme has had an impact on reading levels.

"There's so many things that go on to help reading. I couldn't put my hand on my heart and say it's improved reading at the school, but it certainly has improved the childrens attitude to it."

He believes reading at home is vital to any child's education and should be done at every opportunity, not just between 9am and 3pm.

"I don't think you can overstate it's importance. If you still have the attitude that reading and books are just for school, you put limits on what you can do."

According to the programme's website, 520 schools and more than 100,000 pupils are involved, with close to 2,000,000 books being given away.

All one, two and three decile schools are eligible for the programme.

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- The Timaru Herald

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