Careers Through Reading is a multi-visit outreach program that involves primary school students in Year 2 and Year 5 (approximately seven years and eleven-years-old respectively) being introduced to a variety of career and study options by university students reading them children’s books related to their study/career.

An important component of the Careers Through Reading program is the ‘graduation gift’ of a children’s book on the final day of the five week program. Families connected to the schools in which the program runs do not always have the funds or other forms of capital to support students with their own literacy resources. Each student participant of Careers Through Reading receives a book labelled with the University logo and their name as a memento of their participation. Initially a book was selected by individual school librarians and purchased for the purpose of this ‘graduation’.

A children’s book titled HOPE has been written by the AIM High team as both a way for the program to become more cost effective and, more importantly, to ensure that the book specifically and directly reinforces the nature and intent of the Careers Through Reading program.

HOPE is based on the principles of positive psychology (the cognitive skill set of Hope Theory in particular) and explores how individuals aspire by identifying and then navigating pathways, through often difficult situations, towards goals that have meaning and purpose.

The book is enhanced by a soundtrack that has been written by University of Newcastle third year Bachelor of Music student Jayden Lawrence and by a unit of work (including lesson plans) being developed by Dr Heather Sharp and Debbie Bradbery from the Faculty of Education. The soundtrack, ‘read-along’ soundscape and classroom resources will all be available to schools free of charge via a project website.

HOPE was written by Matt Lumb of the AIM High team and illustrated by Kiara and Michael Mucci, two professional artists with a history of being involved in equity/social justice projects. As part of the book’s launch in June, Gillean Shaw from the University Art Gallery is curating an art exhibition based on the book illustrations. This exhibition may be taken to both school and community libraries as well as regional art galleries.

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