Welcome to the blog of the Tasmanian branch of the Children's Book Council of Australia!

Friday 20 March 2020

Can You Grow a Love of Reading?

Teacher and Literacy Coach, Emma Nuttall, shares her love of reading to consider how, as adults, we can help children develop similar passions and engage with texts of all sorts.

I love to read. The stack of books on my bedside table often tumbles onto the floor, not dissimilar to my zucchinis trailing out of the garden beds! Some books remain unread, but I can’t bring myself to move them to the bookshelf, thus deeming them read. The array of books ranges from gardening tips (companion plants is one of the latest topics), education texts, novels, children’s picture books, recipe books and pottery guides. They know my face in the local bookshop and rub their hands with glee as I enter – mostly to share their own love of books, but also for the ringing of the tills!

In the classroom, when I scan the topics on show during reading time, the range is not dissimilar to that found in the local library – Wings of Fire (Tui T Sutherland) is popular in my class – get them talking about the series and they just can’t stop. 
Scholastic trailer for the Wings of Fire series.

The range of non-fiction delights: it’s science this year - volcanos are popular, as are weird and wonderful bugs.

Holes, by Louis Sachar,
published by Scholastic.
Last year’s class novel had us on the edge of our seats. Holes (Louis Sachar) had them begging to miss their break, to sneak another chapter. The engagement, the excitement – I recognised it.

But not everyone feels the same. I know this all too well and I take it upon myself to create this feeling in them, for them. My book hunts turn to finding books for that child with the love of motorbikes and fixing things – what would they love to read? Then there is the child who wants to read the latest fantasy series, but can’t bring themselves to open the cover. For many it’s the words, it’s a challenge. For these children the struggle is real and I sense their discomfort, an awareness that they are missing out.

Blueback, by Tim Winton,
published by Penguin.
How do we grow a love of reading? Mine was handed down to me. An inherent love that I discovered at a very young age, through gentle nurturing and a home filled with books. I’m grateful for this and believe strongly that in sharing it, we can build it in others. We read to them, we surround them in texts, we make our love of reading visible, we bring the books to life and scaffold learning so as to allow access to the powerful texts for all learners. Reading Blueback (Tim Winton) to a group of 12 year olds, draws even the most reticent readers in.

In answer to my own question, yes, you can most definitely grow a love of reading. It takes time, just like the garden. Sometimes it needs protection from the self-doubt; sometimes it needs a gentle hand to support the new growth; sometimes it just needs a nudge in the right direction. But yes, it most definitely can be grown. And all you need is a good book to do it.

Emma Nuttall
Teacher, Literacy Coach, Avid Reader and Parent of readers


  1. so true Emma, and just like gardening, there are changing seasons - sometimes reading thrives, other times not much going on, sometimes needs a rethink of what different seeds we might need, which companion plants will help the strugglers thrive, and to reap the fruits of our efforts.

  2. Emma if books are like zucchinis they are also like pumpkins but only if students can make the connection to the story, identify or appreciate the characters and 'hear the voice' within. Often it only takes one book or one series to get students excited and engaged and as those involved with students it is our privilege to open the door for potential future readers.

  3. So many books to read...and so little time, or is there? Reading your blog makes me want to revisit reading Blueback and Holes and many others. But then again I have so many unread books to enjoy. I have a Hilary Mantel's tome The Mirror and the Light just begging me to start reading when I get home tonight! I could think of so much worse things to face, than having too many books to read!