As part of my induction to Chief Executive of the New Zealand Book Council, I have met with a range of people across the literature and literacy sectors.
I've been struck by three things.
Firstly, the large volume of impressive projects and activities that are underway, led by many talented and dedicated people.
Secondly (from a perspective of someone who has worked for many years in the public sector, and outside the book industry) that this impressive work is often flying under the radar.
And thirdly, the consistent message that people are confused about what the Book Council's purpose is, and what we do.
So, working with the Council and team, we have thought hard about how we can make the most impact.
The New Zealand Book Council's aim is to grow a nation of readers. We want more New Zealanders reading more often.
We want this because being able to read is essential to our ability to navigate our world, to earn a living, and to participate in society. Encouraging reading, particularly reading for pleasure, is critical for our nation’s prosperity and well-being.
Furthermore, a love of reading is the single most important indicator of a child’s future success. It’s even a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background.
The Book Council will make an impact by continuing and extending our work that aims to grow the next generation of readers.
Our effective Writers in Schools programmes stimulate an interest in writing and reading, and thousands of students have benefited. We want all students, especially those most vulnerable, to have access to these programmes.
We will shine a light on the literature and literacy sectors through our new advocacy strategy, highlighting the impact of their work: the importance of reading, the power of reading New Zealand stories and New Zealand writers, and the value of libraries.
Working with like-minded partner organisations, we will also run targeted campaigns to encourage specific groups to keep reading. Young men is where we are starting.
So we are focused. We are learning. We are determined. And I am excited to be part of the Book Council team.