This week (20-20 August 2016) is Book Week.
Each year, across Australia, The Children’s Book Council of Australia brings children and books together celebrating Children’s Book Week. During this time schools, libraries, booksellers, authors, illustrators and children celebrate Australian Children’s Literature.
Although don’t feel that you only have to read Australian stories. Book Week is a great opportunity to read anything, particularly with your child.
Literacy rates are lower than you think
You may think that here in Australia, we don’t have a problem with illiteracy (the inability to read or write). However, it may surprise you to know that around 46 per cent of Australian adults don’t have the literacy skills needed to cope with everyday life.
That’s almost half of us!
Furthermore, 51 per cent of Australian adults — that’s more than half! — don’t realise that reading and sharing stories with children from birth gives them the best start in life.
Sadly, Aussie kids spend around twice the amount of time watching TV as they do reading.
Benefits of reading
Reading has so many benefits. As a book-lover and a writer, I could go on for hours about how great reading is. But let’s just stick to a few. Did you know that:
- Reading helps children build a solid language and literacy foundation before they go to school
- Children who are read to have better cognitive skills later in life. And they aren’t just limited to spelling and language skills. Numeracy skills are also impacted in a positive way.
- Reading sparks imagination, creativity and an enquiring mind
- Reading relieves boredom
- Reading provides opportunities for you to bond with your child
- Children who read, tend to become readers for life.
Memories can be made with books
The other great thing about books is they can help build special memories of your children.
My son (who is almost 14) has always been surrounded by books. I read to him the first day he came home from hospital as a baby. I read to him in the morning and in the afternoon. It became a routine which he loved. Snuggled up on the couch, touching pages, repeating words — it was a very special time together.
In the early days of motherhood, when most things would bamboozle me, and I was feeling like a terrible failure, I would take solace in the bookshop. My son would sit or lie in his pram and soak up the atmosphere. We both became calmer versions of ourselves in a place where there were other worlds to discover, new people to meet, new adventures to be had.
By the time we’d bought a book (or a few books), and had a coffee, the world would be a happy place again.
I did the same when my daughter was born. Although the trip to the bookshop wasn’t always as calm, as I had a 2 ½ year old boy who kept excitedly bringing me book after book, asking if we could buy it.
As my kids grew older, I would ask them to choose several stories to read. They would both excitedly run into their rooms, search through their books and pull out five or six stories. Some of them would feature every day. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” was a particular favourite. But sometimes we would be treated to something different, like the story about “The Little Yellow Digger”, or “Lettice: The Flower Girl”.
Classics like “Guess How Much I Love You”, “Possum Magic” and a variety of “Hairy Maclary” were read over and over. As were books on dinosaurs, dogs, rabbits and birds.
Books bring you closer together
Both my children outgrew their picture books a while ago, and I no longer have the pleasure of seeing them run down the hallway and emerge triumphantly with a pile of books almost as big as themselves. But I do have the pleasure of seeing them enjoy more grown up stories. And I do have the pleasure of introducing them to stories that I love — stories I grew up with and loved like “The Faraway Tree” books, “Little House on the Prairie” and “Anne of Green Gables; and more recent stories like “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games”.
Regardless of how old they get, and the likelihood that they will forget just how much reading we did in those early days, I will never forget. I’ll never forget how a cappuccino (or bottle in my son’s case) and a new book made the world a better place. And I will never forget the warm snuggles and soft pyjamas as we would settle in for several stories each night.
So this week — just because it’s Book Week — read to your kids. If they are too old to be read to (are they ever??), then talk to them about the books they are reading. Talk to them about what you’re reading.
You know you’ll be helping them improve their literacy and learning. And you may just enjoy it too.
If you struggle writing a good sentence and would like me to help you out, just flick me an email. I promise I’ll answer it – as soon as I’m finished reading!