Try to imagine your life without the ability to read. No train timetables, job ads, instruction manuals, newspapers or books. It might be difficult to fathom but in Australia this is the case for nearly half of the population. This year is the National Year of Reading in Australia, which aims to encourage children (and adults) to learn how to read, inspire a culture of reading and highlight the value of literacy.
So, how can you support the National Year of Reading? Here are five easy ways to get involved:
1) Set a reading challenge for yourself - Good Reads has made it easy for you to create a personal reading challenge. Simply set how many books you'll aim to read, track and monitor the books that you have read. Don't forget to update when you have completed a book. It is rewarding to see the progress indicator reaching closer and closer to your goal. Check out the 2012 Reading Challenge on their website to get started. If you're stumped on what to tackle next, Good Reads can help and suggest your next big read too.
2) Support women writers - Do your part to support female authors and gender balance in contemporary writing. The Australian Women Writers Challenge invites you to explore a wide range of genres written by Aussie women. If you're unsure how much you can commit to, see how you go in the Stella category, requiring you to read three books and review two on your blog, website or preferred social media forum. Sign up for the initiative at the AWW website.
3) Join the library - When was the last time you stepped foot in a library? For many it was probably during university or school. Relive the joy of visiting the local library. It's free, easy and fun. Visit your city's government website for information about local libraries.
4) Start or join a book club - Gather your friends for a night of wine, treats and lively discussion. Or organise a club with co-workers to meet once a month at lunch or at Happy Hour. You can also find existing book clubs online. Try Gumtree, Meetup or any of the social media networks.
5) Write - This year can serve as a great inspiration for writers of any level and genre. Kick start your writing by enrolling in a course, joining a casual writers group or starting a journal. The more you read, the more inspired you might become to bring your own words to the page.
One more for the list - if you want to help everyone in your community celebrate reading this year, visit National Year of Reading 2012's partners Paint the Town REaD -http://paintthetownread.info/ - with a mission to help everyone read, talk, sing and rhyme with their kids from birth.