My five-year old is reading and it is magic. I am equally excited, in wonder of, and grateful for this somewhat natural interest because I am aware this is not everyone’s story. Last year, Kim Kelly, writer for MaMamia, wrote about the heartbreaking truth that only one in five indigenous kids can read.
There are of course many fantastic organisations trying to change these and other worrying statistics however it wasn’t until the good worms at Dymocks Children’s Charities, (DCC) made contact had I heard of the annual NSW Premier’s Reading Challenge which invites all NSW students in Kindergarten-Year 9 to read, read more and read more widely. It’s an exciting project that DCC is part of with a fundraising program called Book Bonus.
How Book Bonus works is schools are loaded with brand new books then students are challenged to become book worms and raise funds, through sponsorship, for the books they are reading. Funds raised are divided between the school to buy books and DCC for their literacy program, Book Bank in NSW priority schools.
More than 100 schools in NSW have been identified as Priority Schools. That is, schools which serve communities with the highest concentrations of low socio-economic status families. If every student who completed the Premier’s Reading Challenge in 2011 (220,000 students) raised just $20 in sponsorship this year, the total funds would be $4,400,000 or an extra $300,000 books in our schools. Imagine what a difference that could make to our upcoming generation.
How to Grow Your Own Book Worm
Start early – The earlier you read with your child, the more likely it is they will continue to read in later life.
Read together – Make reading a part of your daily routine. Create a dedicated space in the house for reading. This way you can read together at any time of the day and your child will not only associate the activity with bedtime. In time, your child will connect the love and affection they receive during this time with reading.
Put books in every room: Having easy access to books means that your child can bring you a book to read together wherever you are in the house.
Allow reading time to be question time: Take turns reading to each other. This will encourage your child to stop and ask questions. Creating a discussion about the book will help your child gain familiarity with new words, objects and pictures. Asking open-ended questions helps children develop reading comprehension. A child’s imagination is a wonderful thing and asking, “What do you think will happen next?” can lead to a whole new ending for the story.
Love your library: The library is an exciting place for a young child and plays an important role in developing a love of reading. Children who read often and from a young age are far more likely to vastly improve their literacy skills and become lifelong learners. One of the best ways of achieving this is to encourage them to read every day for pleasure and there is no better place to nurture this than your local library.