A reading challenge for our students

Maltese and Gozitan children and youths have been challenged to read at least five books over the summer through the ‘Aqra fis-Sajf’ campaign

It is a well known fact that children and teenagers need to keep on reading for pleasure during the summer in order to sustain the abilities and skills they have acquired throughout the school year. Therefore it is our responsibility to encourage our children and teenagers to read as many books as possible, even once school has ended.

Research shows that students who read over the summer do better in school and that students who do not read over the summer demonstrate up to two months of academic loss. Those students who read for fun outperform those who do not and students read more when they can choose their own books. 

Summer reading loss is cumulative, meaning that by the end of primary schooling, children who do not read over the summer months are two years behind the other children in academic achievement. We believe that reading at least five books over the summer can prevent academic loss.

In light of these benefits to academic performance, this summer the Ministry for Education and Employment is launching the campaign ‘Aqra fis-Sajf’ in order to encourage all students to read as much as possible. 

For this campaign to be a success, students need to have access to books. To facilitate this, we have taken several initiatives, including weekly reading sessions, in Maltese and English, held at Skolasajf centres by animators trained by the National Literacy Agency.

The National Literacy Agency is currently running the literacy programme ‘Aqra Miegħi/Read with Me’ in 50 localities, and ‘Seħer L-Istejjer’ in 40 localities across Malta and Gozo. The Department of Curriculum Management has issued a circular to all educators and parents with reading lists in Maltese and English for children from 0 to 16 years old, and a set of guidelines on reading for parents. The school library of the Co-ed Middle schools in Naxxar and Tarxien, and the secondary schools in Kirkop (boys), Hamrun (boys, ex Adelaide Cini), Hamrun (boys, Lyceum), Mosta (girls and boys), Naxxar (boys), Santa Lucija (girls), Sliema (boys), Verdala (boys), Zejtun (girls), and Rabat Gozo (boys), are offering their services once a week to their respective students.

Malta Libraries has seen 22 localities extend the opening hours, over more days, of their public libraries.

Students who require help in reading are attending Klabbsajf and following a guided reading programme. These sessions are being held in nine Nwar programme centres of the National Literacy Agency.

Reading Ambassadors will be visiting a number of Skolasajf centres, run by the Foundation for Educational Services, where they will be promoting reading through story-telling sessions.

I am convinced that it is important to challenge students to read at least five books in summer. Students have been asked to record the book titles on specifically prepared bookmarks. Prizes by way of books will be awarded to a number of students.

This campaign is being organized by the National Literacy Agency, with the collaboration of the Foundation for Educational Services, Malta Libraries and the Directorates of Education of the Ministry for Education and Employment. We are doing our utmost to encourage children to read but we need the support of parents to make reading for pleasure a reality. The link between reading for fun and educational success is clear.