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The Australian Reading Hour will take place this Thursday 14th September. The book industry will be asking Australians to read for an hour during lunch, with their reading group, before bed or on their commute, while engaging as many children as possible through school libraries.

Why Australian? It takes just one look at the bestseller charts to confirm that Australian readers are hungry for Australian stories, so we will be celebrating Australian storytelling, books and authors.  There will be author events all over the country and you can find more information about events near you on the Love2Read Facebook Page.

Why reading? The Australian Publishers Association has just completed an academic literature review on the importance of reading. We have all heard that reading for pleasure is the most important indicator of the future success of a child, more important even than their family’s socioeconomic status, but did you know that:

  • Children who know adults who read for pleasure take it for granted that reading is valuable.
  • Reading is closely linked to increasing our understanding of our own identities.
  • When tested for empathy, readers of narrative fiction achieved significantly higher scores than other groups.
  • Reading a gripping novel causes positive biological changes in the brain that can last for days.
  • The more leisure books people read, the more literate they become and the more prosperous and equitable the society they inhabit.
  • And my favourite, reading reduces stress by 68%, relieving stress more quickly than listening to music, going for a walk or having a cup of tea.

On the flipside, research suggests that children are reading less, and what they are reading is changing to include text messages, websites, emails and social media.

With the constant bombardment of content and news, mostly bad these days it seems, the Australian Reading Hour is a fantastic opportunity to stop and lose yourself in a book for a whole blissful hour. To pledge your support, go to australianreadinghour.org.au.

Hachette already has fantastic plans in place to celebrate the Australian Reading Hour. Contrary to popular belief, as publishers, we do not spend our days draped across sofas reading the next Miles Franklin winner. In fact, all of our reading for work (which is truly reading for pleasure) is done out of office hours. On Thursday, we are having a company picnic, so we can all lie in the sun and read an Australian book.  There will be strictly no talking!

So what will you be reading on Thursday?  It is sad but true, when working in publishing there are so many books to read, it can be a challenge to finish all the books you love. So I will be reading Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman on the picnic.  We discovered Claire thanks to our partnership with black&write!, and I loved what I read on acquisition many moons ago. At bedtime, my daughter and I will continue reading Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend, and given how incredibly exciting it’s getting, I am sure I’ll be clocking on for a second hour of #Wundrous reading time.

Read an Australian book for pleasure this Australian Reading Hour and reap the benefits. And then brag about it on social media using #brbReading.

Louise Sherwin-Stark

Louise Sherwin-Stark

Joint Managing Director Hachette Australia.

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