05 October, 2012

Kids and Reading

"It's easy to be blasé about reading and books – easy to take them for granted. Yet when I think about it, reading to me is the key to so much. The key to a wider reach of information, a path to learning, the joy of entertainment and the exciting of the imagination. It's just so much fun." - William McInnes, Australian actor and author and patron of the National Year of Reading.

My kids are readers. You have no idea how proud that makes me to say that. My kids love to read - with me, with my husband, with their grandparents, with their cousins, with random strangers, but, most importantly by themselves.

My daughter camping this year
My son, same camping ground, 18 months earlier

Now it would be fair to say that my kids have been showered with books from an early age. Both my husband and I are readers and as a teacher I knew the importance of reading. We read to our kids all the time and now they read to us. Both read above grade level, but what is most important to me is that they choose to spend a part of their day with their noses in a book!

10 year old boy book shelves
The Princess' book shelf

2012 is the National Year of Reading in Australia. It scares me that in a country as rich and prosperous as Australia in 2006,  almost 50% of adults "cannot confidently read newspapers, follow a recipe, make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle." - Source Australian Bureau of Statistics

That is a scary statistic. Almost 50%! How does that happen??

I'm a true believer that reading starts at home. It is so simple - a child who is read to, who sees their same sex parent reading is more likely to read themselves. 10 minutes a day, that's all it takes. 10 minutes of sitting with your child and sharing a book. One hour every week or two to take them to a library. These two simple things open the world to a child in extraordinary ways.

To finish, some of my favourite quotes about books and reading - a way to open many, many doors.

No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.
- Confucius

The connection between reading speed and comprehension; a film is made up of still images flashed in rapid succession to simulate movement. Slow down the film, and the movement and meaning slows and the film's impact is diminished. Viewers won't learn as much about the film as if it were shown at normal speed. With reading the same thing can happen. When a person reads word by word, like frame by frame, they are not reading on the level of ideas. You need to read on some level that's more conversational and allows things to coalesce into ideas themselves.
- Doug Evans, Institute of Reading Development

A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man's mind can get both provocation and privacy.
- Edward P. Morgan

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.
- Emilie Buchwald

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.
- Frederick Douglass

(all quotes came from here)

Now, go read to your kids!


  1. Unfortunately, my son is not a reader despite my efforts!

    1. Yes, there are kids who just aren't readers - something as a teacher I had to accept. However, all your efforts most probably ensure your son can read. I wonder how many kids are labelled non-readers simply because they have never been given the chance.

  2. Great blog. Like Marg, my daughter isn't a reader....well, let me qualify that. She hasn't read a book for about 10 years....yes, my baby hasn't read a book, a fiction one, for 10 years. She says she doesn't have time and they don't really interest her (I've stopped telling her she just hasn't found the right one).

    However, this same 25yr old "baby" reads voraciously in other areas - fashion magazines and articles, wedding books and mags, hairdressing books/mags/articles etc and a multitude of other things. She has 3 Cert IIIs (or IVs) in Security, Real Estate (property management) and Hairdressing (and got part way through an Aeronautics one for Ground Crew before she was lured back to Stefan). So, she has read an awful lot of "stuff" to get these quals but has yet to find the joy of reading....sigh...

    I DO wonder about the statistics though. I was in charge of Adult Literacy in the library in 1990 and while I accept that there are people who cannot read at a functional level does this include people who are new to Australia and therefore cannot read ENGLISH, does it include people with intellectual impairments, or people who have lost their ability to read due to having had a stroke or some other illness. I'm not saying they shouldn't count....everyone should be functionally literate....but it may tell a slightly different story - ie that these people haven't been let down by their education and therefore perhaps different processes need to be put in place to help these people read, rather than target education per se.