Hats off to Books in Homes
By Cathy Asplin
There was plenty to celebrate at a special Kihikihi School assembly last week.
As well as great excitement over joining the Books in Homes programme, Kihikihi pupils helped mark the scheme’s 10th birthday and welcomed author Tony Williams as guest speaker for their first Role Model Assembly.
The Books in Homes Programme was inspired by Alan Duff (and so has been commonly referred to as ‘Duffy Books’). With the help of Christine Fernyhough he developed the idea after realising that failures in adult life often stem from childhoods spent in bookless homes.
The philosophy behind the programme is simple - to break the cycle of ‘booklessness’.
“Children who cannot read often become adults who cannot communicate - a serious disadvantage in a world that operates on the written word.”
Schools involved in the Books in Homes programme are selected from areas where the children are most likely to come from bookless homes.
Mr Duff’s self-help philosophy is reflected in the fact that each school joins in a financial partnership with their sponsors to fund their books. The books are selected by the children and are theirs to take home and keep. Each book has a label which has the child’s name on it as well as the name of the school and sponsor who has given the book.
There are currently over 400 schools nationwide in the programme. Twice a year Role Model Assemblies are held at every school. Sportspeople, musicians, artists, writers, radio personalities, television presenters, fashion presenters and many other New Zealanders visit, present books and talk to the students about their achievements and goals. They impress on children that it is ‘cool’ to read and make a connection between success and reading.
For the Kihikihi School Role Model Assembly Tony Williams entertained Kihikihi School children with some of his ‘acting’ skills and read an excerpt from one of his books. The Welsh author who now lives in Auckland has written about everything from New Zealand’s most notorious criminals to New Zealand’s rugby playing heroes. He has 30 published books, including several children’s stories such as ‘Fizz the Wildest Boy in the Universe’ and ‘Erik the Viking Raider’. Amongst his non-fiction works are ‘Cassino’ (an account of soldiers in the 1944 battle for Italy) and a book about murdered teenager Kirsty Bently (written in conjunction with her mother). He has also compiled an encyclopaedia and an atlas.
“My aim has been to write in various styles - I began writing for magazines and want to eventually have a number one international bestseller!”