Reading with Highlanders

Pine Hill School pupils (from left) Bella Stefani (7), Zackery Still (8), Eli Ravenwood (10) and...
Pine Hill School pupils (from left) Bella Stefani (7), Zackery Still (8), Eli Ravenwood (10) and Ramari Perenara (7) celebrate a new initiative between Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature and the Highlanders to encourage children to read. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Literature and rugby are forming an alliance to bring the joy of reading to Dunedin’s children.

Dunedin Unesco City of Literature director Nicky Page said the Little Landers Literature campaign was developed to bring reading to those who would benefit most.

Under the programme, Highlanders players would head to Pine Hill, Bathgate Park, Carisbrook, Brockville,  Concord and Bradford schools to read to pupils, and share stories about the books theyloved to read.

Ms Page said the programme was developed because reading helped people empathise and understand others.

Research linked literacy skills with a range of improved life outcomes.

It was a key goal of City of Literature to encourage a love of reading in children from an early age.

She said Highlanders players and pupils would swap stories about their favourite books, articles, graphic novels or lyrics, and read to each other. The programme would run during term two this year, and could continue next year, with a new group of schools invited to sign up.

Local writer-illustrators Robyn Belton and Kathryn van Beek would also visit the schools to provide insights into the process of writing and illustrating.

Pine Hill School principal Melissa Ward said she "jumped at the opportunity" to be involved.

"Experiences like this are fabulous for the pupils."

Male role models were important  to children, as was seeing sports stars reading.

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