Campaign bids to tackle shame of Australia's 'low literacy'

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News Corp is bidding to raise readership levels at source by backing a campaign to boost literacy levels in the country.

Nearly one in five Australian children are not meeting international benchmarks for reading according to a study of grade four students released in 2017.

News joins Australia Post in a 'Raise a Reader' campaign which aims to encourage more children and parents to "read, write and embrace the magic of storytelling".

News national education publisher Toni Hetherington says its four metro tabloids - the Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, Courier-Mail and The Advertiser - will partner regional mastheads in the initiative.

"Literacy skills are fundamental in ensuring future success in our country," she says. "Our journalists around the country will encourage their audiences and communities to 'Raise A Reader' through this strong editorial campaign."

The campaign is complemented by Australia Post's Legends stamp series which recognises living Australians who have made an outstanding and inspirational contribution to Australia's communities and culture. In 2019 this series recognises Australia's leading children's authors.

News Corp readers also will be invited to take part in the Letters to Legends national competition to encourage children to write a letter to their chosen "legend", explaining the qualities they believe make their chosen person a legend and how this person inspires them.

A survey of 1000 parents and grandparents commissioned by News Corp Australia found 86 per cent of respondents wanted their children to spend more time reading books with more than 88 per cent reading to their child at least once a week.

UNICEF has rated Australia as 39 out of 41 countries 'in achieving quality education. And nearly one in five Australian children are not meeting international benchmarks for reading, according to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study released in 2017 by the Australian Council for Educational Research, assessing grade four students from 50 countries around the world.

The study focuses on reading for literary experience - which includes being able to imagine things like characters and settings - and using information, which includes things like understanding timelines and learning how things work. The research found almost 20 per cent of Australian participants were classified as having a "low" or "below low" standard of literacy.

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