A flash way to get people reading

The flash mob reading in Magellan Street on Tuesday.
The flash mob reading in Magellan Street on Tuesday.

The great thing about a flash mob is watching the faces of the unsuspecting public walking by who have no idea what the hell is going on.

As shoppers wandered through the Lismore CBD on Valentine's Day laden with bunches of red roses, a flash mob of around 30 people popped up on park benches and sidewalks, pulled out books and began to read to show their love of reading.

The Mayor, the general manager, Trinity students, library staff and others took part in the event to launch the National Year of Reading and encourage people who aren't already readers to pick up a book and delve into the wonderful world of words. Simultaneous flash mobs were also held in Ballina, Byron and Tweed.

"A flash mob was one of the ideas suggested by the national committee and it's a great opportunity to get the library out to people and engage people, other than the converted who visit the libraries regularly, so the community can see what's happening for National Year of Reading," Jo Carmody from Richmond-Tweed Regional Library said. "It's important to acknowledge that it's okay to read and that it's fun - to take some of the seriousness out of reading."

Jo said the National Year of Reading committee is promoting 'the reading hour' - whether it's an hour at a time or 10 minutes a day, it's all about promoting the importance of reading regularly.

Nearly nine-year-old Stella Maddock from Albert Park Public School (happy birthday for Friday!) and her six-year-old sister Ava were both part of the flash mob and need no encouragement to read. Their mum Victoria works at the library and at the moment Stella is engrossed in George's Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl while Ava is enjoying Horrible Hair by Gerald Rose.

"I really like reading," Stella enthused. "It's really fun and you get to read lots of different books and find out heaps of stories. I read every single day."

Around 46% of Australians don't have the necessary literacy skills for day-to-day life and Victoria was more than happy to spend 15 minutes of her time with the flash mob, promoting the importance of reading.

"I think the flash mob is really fun - seeing people out and about reading is eye-catching and we're sending a really good message."

Jo said every Richmond-Tweed Regional Library branch is asking people to take part in a scrapbook event called 'Your Thoughts on Reading' where each month people are asked a different question about how reading has affected their lives. Just by entering you can win book vouchers and at the end of 2012 it will be collated into one big book. To take part, drop in at your local branch, visit or search for Richmond-Tweed Regional Library on Facebook.

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