If there was nobody to read our books we wouldn’t experience the pleasure and true honour of having someone read, interpret and enjoy what we have written.
I grew up in a household where books spilled over into every room, where you couldn’t walk more than a few paces before you came to a bookcase. Everyone loved books in our household. They have always been talked about, and I remember being read to from a very young age and being taken to public libraries every week.
But some people aren’t so lucky. They don’t have exposure to books on a daily basis, and then there are those who struggle to read; who have never been taught or who have struggled with an education system that doesn’t allow for their learning differences.
According to the National Year of Reading, a staggering 46% of Australians can’t read newspapers; follow a recipe; make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle.
1. Read to them before they were born and even read books together as a family when me kids were in upper primary school. You can continue this even further if you want.
2. Bought books as birthday presents…or any kind of presents.
3. My husband and I made time to read ourselves so that our kids could see reading being modelled.
4. Made family trips to the library a treat – like a family outing.
5. Gave my kids autonomy in books they chose.
6. Helped my kids choose books according to their hobbies and the kinds of things they liked.
7. Gave books as treats or rewards instead of chocolate or money.
8. Incorporated books and reading into our lifestyle.
9. Left reading materials where they could be easily accessed; books on the coffee table, newspapers at breakfast etc.
10. Encouraged my kids to have a book to read during television ad breaks (instead of fighting with each other).
11. Did research so that when my kids ‘couldn’t find anything to read’, I always had something to fill the gaps.
12. Encouraged reading to be a habit – something that was done at the same time every day – like brushing teeth.
13. Allowed reading time before sleep so that even if they were in bed at 7.30, they were allowed to stay awake for an extra half an hour to read – that way reading was a treat.
14. Read books my kids liked even if they weren’t the sort of thing I preferred to read – that way I encouraged them to be open minded about what they read and it also meant I could have a fun discussion about the book with them.
15. Had special book shopping days where my kids could choose to buy a book as a treat for something they had done well.
16. Made books a part of our life in every way possible from the day they were born.
WHAT’S ON DURING THE NATIONAL YEAR OF READING
During the National Year of Reading there will be heaps of great projects to encourage reading and writing. Some of the great events planned include:
- It’s Never Too Late…To Learn to Read
- Creative Reading Prize
- Writers in residence
- Festival of Indigenous Reading, Writing & Storytelling in Darwin
- Local library membership drives
- The Reading Hour
More about these projects is available on the love2read website.
The National Year of Reading also supports the Indigenous Literacy Foundation and the Pyjama Foundation which “makes it possible for Pyjama Angels – volunteer members of the community who work with children and Australia’s foster families – to read every day to thousands of children in care.”
During 2012 I’ll be donating 10% of my fees from author school visits to these worthy causes and to organisations that support children with learning differences.
To find out how you can support the National Year of Reading and help turn our country into a nation of readers, visit the National Year of Reading website.
I hope you will get behind the National Year of Reading too.