NRL promotes reading and literacy

For a third straight year the NRL, in conjunction with the Australian Library and Information Association, has taken part in the National Simultaneous Storytime. 

Now in its 16th successful year, the NSS is an exciting event aimed to promote the values of reading and literacy via a new book each year that explores themes relevant to Australian school children. 

Taking part in this year's event was George Rose, who is currently an NRL Ambassador involved in helping out with community-based programs focussed on education. 

The former Roosters, Sea Eagles, Storm and Dragons prop was joined by NRL Education Officer Stacey Taranto in a reading of the children's story I Got This Hat as part of a live feed that was watched by over 70 schools across Australia and New Zealand. 

"I've always been a big supporter of education and I'm still studying at the moment so I always encourage people to make the most of their school time and always strive to be better," Rose told NRL.com.

"I think this is great to encourage kids to enjoy reading at a young age because it makes it a lot easier for them when they grow up."

Wednesday morning's National Simultaneous Storytime event wasn't the first time Rose had been involved in an NRL inspired reading program.

The 33-year-old former front-rower used to be a Reading Captain while at the Sea Eagles, which involved him encouraging school children to not only read, but also enjoy it. 

"I've been involved with the Rugby League Reads for a long time," he said. 

"When I was at Manly, we used to go to schools once a week and go and read with the kids. It was making reading fun because obviously learning at school isn't always fun, so it's great to find ways to make it more enjoyable for the kids.

"We found that it was getting a lot of young boys and girls involved in reading and you could see that they were having fun as well." 

Wednesday morning's event was the third year the NRL had participated in the event, but the first time the reading had been conducted via Livestream. 

The 2014 reading of Too Many Elephants and last year's The Brothers Quibble were both well received but didn't have access to the same reach as this year's event.

In partnership with digital education providers ClickView, Wednesday's reading was watched by more than 70 schools from across NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand. 

According to Stacey Taranto, Education Officer at the NRL, the partnership has paved the way for the NSS to be seen by more students than ever before. 

"Rugby league is a national game so we want to reach as many schools and education spaces as possible," she said. 

"This has really opened the door for us for how many schools and libraries can access it.

"I think our video conference last year only had five or six school but because they've got such a big database of thousands of schools, they've given us a digital platform to connect on a much larger scale. 

"The schools can just have a smart board and a laptop and they just go onto the ClickView website and they can just watch from there." 

The NRL's reading programs continues to grow each year and have been well supported by the 16 clubs.

Players from a number of clubs took part in Wednesday's book reading at local schools, libraries and other places in the community to help spread the message about the importance of reading. 

One of the key learning materials used to motivate students is the Rugby League Reads magazine, which includes a teacher's resource designed to turn the stories into interactive lessons.

The upcoming edition of the biannual magazine will include a feature on Parramatta Eels forward Peni Terepo and his life as a butcher outside of rugby league, as well as recipes, stories and life advice. 

"Lessons and activities have been designed for each of the articles so teachers can use them in their classrooms. It's aimed at years 3-6 but it can be used for lower secondary students who might be struggling with reading," Taranto said. 

"We get a lot of amazing feedback from schools. The magazines get quite worn out because they're shared between the students who all want to read the stories." 

This video first featured on titans.com.au