New campaign promotes Kiwi men as readers

Tauranga Rotary volunteers Don Pilbrow and Richard Speed enjoy their time volunteering at the book fair back in February.

A new online campaign will focus on New Zealand men and their reading habits.

Blokes vs Books is a joint initiative between Read NZ Te Pou Muramura (formerly the Book Council) and the NZ Society of Authors.

The campaign consists of a series of short, light-hearted interviews between playwright Victor Rodger and well-known New Zealand men, on how books and reading have shaped their lives.

From Shortland Street actor Jay Kiriona to comedian Leigh Hart, the men share their reading habits and favourite books from the comfort of their living rooms.

The film clips will be released on social media over one week, along with book giveaways, interviews and articles.

Reading research conducted by Read NZ Te Pou Muramura in 2018 showed the numbers of Kiwi men reading had dropped.

 This led to the development of a volunteer panel made up of self-described ‘reluctant readers.’ Their input helped to design Blokes vs Books.

 NZ Society of Authors Chief Executive Jenny Nagle says Blokes vs Books is about amplifying the benefits of reading.

 “We want to stress that reading is calming in this difficult time of worry and isolation; that reading is brain food and that there are proven neurological benefits too. Men’s reading will enhance family life, men’s mental health and life outcomes.”

 “We know reading to children boosts academic and life achievement and research shows it is powerful when Dad reads,” she says.

 Read NZ Te Pou Muramura CEO Juliet Blyth agrees that making reading a daily habit has a flow-on effect.

 “Perhaps men don’t realise how important they are in encouraging and supporting our young people to read and to keep reading.

 “We’re excited to partner with NZ Society of Authors to reach a core group of potential readers who can offer a lot to their whānau by modelling an enjoyment of reading and thereby help grow a nation of readers. Men have an important to role to play in this,” she says.

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