St George Illawarra Dragons duo Ben Creagh and Trent Merrin are both amongst the “Legends of League” whose personal stories have been shared in a Rugby League book series launch for children on Wednesday.
The Dragons pair join a contingent of NRL players within the “Legends of League” biography series which is the latest addition to the NRL’s “library” of publications that have been used by more than 500,000 children since the Rugby League Reads program started in 2010 to encourage more children to read.
It follows the successful “Footy Fables” launched last May which is in over 1,000 school libraries.
The Legends of League series provides students with biographies of 18 high profile Rugby League players and their journey to first grade Rugby League.
Themes of cultural diversity, mateship, education, community, health and wellbeing and family underpin the biographies, allowing teachers to integrate these resources in the classroom curriculum.
Written by boys’ education and literacy expert Suzan Hirsch, the new curriculum-based biography series follows the release last year of “Footy Fables” to launch the NRL’s three-year partnership with seven-time award-winning “Primary Publisher of the Year” Macmillan Education.
“Rugby League players often prefer to read sporting biographies and students identified that they would like to do the same - the Legends of League biography series gives students this opportunity,” said Hirsch.
“Until now, the sporting biographies on the market were aimed at adults.
“Through the lives of the Rugby League players students will realise becoming a First Grade player is not an easy journey - determination, hard work and passion is required and every player's journey and life story is different."
Macmillan Education also publishes “Rugby League Reads Magazine”, one of the innovative flagship resources that has been part of the NRL’s Rugby League Reads program since its inception.
The partnership takes the Rugby League Reads program to another level with a push into schools throughout Australia, New Zealand and other international markets.
NRL Interim General Manager Mark Deweerd said the program was launched to engage primary students in reading and to break down stereotypes that sport stars, especially Rugby League men, do not need or like to read.
“The partnership with Macmillan is great for Rugby League; as the Primary Publisher of the Year for the past seven successive years their reach and profile ensures we can give more children access to our resources than ever before,” said Deweerd.
“It has also enabled us to produce high quality resources that are curriculum based and like no other on the market.”
In 2010, independent research conducted by the Australian Catholic University on the benefits of the Rugby League Reads resources found that 85 per cent of teachers surveyed strongly agreed resources positively affected the engagement of male reluctant readers.
Key findings from the ACU’s research included:
• 78 per cent of all male students and 25 per cent of all female students were more motivated in reading sessions in the classroom when using the Rugby League Reads magazines.
• 75 per cent of male students’ voluntary reading increased due to their exposure to the Rugby League Reads magazines.
It attitudes and reading habits. Each of the 16 NRL Clubs has a Reading Captain and all are involved with program in their local communities.