West awarded 2021 Reading Australia Fellowship
The Copyright Agency has named Edwina West, from Sydney’s Oakhill College, as the 2021 Reading Australia Fellow for Teachers of English Literacy.
West receives a grant of $15,000, which will be used to develop a resource for teachers and teacher librarians to help students select books that reflect their diverse experiences and address the growing rate of aliteracy, or lack of interest in reading.
As a teacher, West has had encounters with students who have admitted they don’t read because they find difficulty selecting a text they can connect with. ‘This is an opportunity to find a more flexible, diverse approach to connecting students with engaging representations of Australia and Australians in young adult literature to foster a love of reading,’ said West.
Her fellowship project will also involve compiling a collection of young adult fiction for teachers and teacher librarians to use to recommend books to students according to interest, relevance and reading ability. She will meet with key writing and publishing organisations to identify how Australian students ‘can be better exposed to high-quality and diverse contemporary Australian writing and books’, according to the Copyright Agency.
‘Diverse representations of Australia and Australians are definitely available through literature and have been for quite some time,’ said Copyright Agency CEO Adam Suckling. ‘[West’s] fellowship will help connect more young readers with young Australian stories, remedying the growing concern of aliteracy among Australian students.’
The annual Reading Australia Fellowship is open to all English and literacy teachers and teacher librarians. Last year Karen Yager was awarded the 2020 fellowship to research the connection between Australian landscape and literature.
West will complete her fellowship by September 2022.