Spotlight On: Just Read

22 November 2019

This article was first published in Queenwood News Weekly 22 November 2019. 

The faint glow of an iPad backlight has merely replaced the faint glow of a torch under the sheets as my night-time routine for a lifetime. Books are a gift. The joy of reading opens your eyes to experiences you will never have or sheds new light onto ones you have had. This gift of a lifetime is one we aim to support through our Just Read program in 2020. As Ms Stone outlined in an earlier communication, we have embarked on a thoroughly researched literacy and wellbeing initiative to adjust the school’s timetable to allow for 20 minutes of silent sustained reading (SSR) each day. Alongside this K – 11 program, we will be studying the impact of sustained silent reading student literacy and on the attitude and motivation of students to engage in reading for pleasure. We have renamed the program, Just Read because that is all we want the girls and teachers to do in that time. In the long term, we hope to set the foundations so girls are empowered and energised by a lifelong love of literature. Below, the members of the QLiteracy Committee explain why they love to read and why they want your daughter to have the same love throughout their own lives:

Gabrielle Mace – Head of Library and Information Services
I grew up with teachers as parents who openly valued reading as a form of relaxing and enjoyable quiet time. I simply wasn’t allowed to leave the house on an outing without a book in case I became bored! This didn’t always work out well for my parents as I vividly recall reading ‘Charlotte’s Web’ at a restaurant and becoming quite hysterical at Charlotte’s death just as the mains were served. Reading has always transported me; I find it always takes me several days after finishing one book before I can start another as I am often missing the characters that I carried with me whilst reading that particular book and am not quite ready to let them go.
What I am looking forward to reading in the summer holidays: The Water Cure – I’ve been saving it for the holidays when I have the time to devour it - possibly in just one sitting!

Merrilyn Lean – Science Teacher
As a child, books were an avenue to knowledge, other cultures and the world outside my experience, and they still are. I distinctly remember getting The Hobbit for my 9th birthday, and being unable to put it down as I was totally immersed in Tolkien’s compelling descriptions. I travelled with Gerald Durrell on his adventures through Corfu, learning about the animals and plants through his eyes, and the people in his idyllic childhood. I recently travelled to Greece for the first time and Durrell’s words still spoke to me – I recognised the intensity of the sunlight and the sparkly blue of the ocean. Reading has also given me a deeper understanding of and empathy for others, something that is very important to me.
What I am looking forward to reading in the summer holidays: The Overstory by Richard Powers, Cane Toad Wars by Rick Shine and Out of our Minds by Filipe Fernandez-Armesta.

Anthony George – Head of English
As a boy, I loved to read and would do so at any given moment much to my parents’ chagrin at times. I would walk to and from school each day and had the uncanny ability to read the page while my peripheral vision kept me from stumbling into the road or a tripping up, mostly! I love that feeling of forgetting the world around oneself when you are fully immersed in a book that it takes over, so much that it can a be wrench to have to put it down, whilst finishing a loved story is akin to grief… until you find the next gripping read.
What I am looking forward to reading in the summer holidays: I am making my way through the works of Thomas Hardy and Tess of the d’Urbervilles is next.

Vanessa Collins – Junior School Curriculum Coordinator
Reading has always provided me with companionship and stability. Escaping into a good book full of characters I can relate to and connect with has brought me huge comfort all my life. Reading is an opportunity to be released from the constraints of reality, to go beyond my world and peek into other worlds be they real or imaginary.
What I am looking forward to reading in the summer holidays: Case Histories by Kate Atkinson and The Flat Share by Beth O’Leary.

Rosalind Walsh – Catalyst Coordinator
Reading fiction is all about being transported to other worlds and lives outside our own. I read to escape reality (mortgage, husband, children, dog) and dream about all the things I could've done, the people I could've been, and the places I'm yet to go.
What I am looking forward to reading in the summer holidays: I'll be relaxing with Phillipa Gregory’s novel The Last Tudor and I've also been saving Jeanette Winterson's new novel, Frankissstein: A Love Story.

Isaac Dargan – Year 4 Teacher
I love reading because it guides your imagination through a different world, requiring you think deeply about a diverse range of characters, along with their struggles and triumphs. Growing up, in between playing any sport accessible, I had my head in an Enid Blyton book, exploring the Magic Faraway Tree or solving mysteries with the Famous Five and Secret Seven. Now, I love reading anywhere and it is the perfect pastime on long car journeys, buses and planes.
What I am looking forward to reading in the summer holidays: Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett and Legacy by James Kerr.

Catherine Phoon – Head of Specialised Programs
To be honest it all started in childhood, my Mother was the teacher librarian at my school. I spent each afternoon in the library waiting for her so we could go home together. This was a very special time as I was allowed to read the books that had just been purchased and not yet catalogued. Reading about so many different characters and their stories has made me more open minded and empathetic. I love this feeling as it is so relaxing and I am grateful that this will become a daily ritual for me at Queenwood with the Just Read initiative.
What I am looking forward to reading in the summer holidays: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.

As for me, I can’t wait to settle down for a few days in the sun with a summer holiday favourite: Haruki Murakami; his latest, Killing Commendatore, is waiting patiently for me.

Mrs Kim Elith
Director of Curriculum