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Libraries set challenge to parents of babies and toddlers

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Parents are being encouraged to read their children 1000 books from birth until they begin school.

Libraries in Victoria have kicked off the campaign which targets the parents of children aged from birth to five years old.

Parents register at their local participating library to receive a reading record and kit to get started. They then read a book a day (or more) and record the title of the books they read.

Goodstart Early Learning childhood educator Lisa Palethorpe says while it’s great to read as many books as possible, if a child wants to re-read a story over and over again it’s highly encouraged and highly valued for their learning.  

“Reading the same books means children can rejoice in the rhythm of words, enjoy the familiarity of what comes next and laugh when they can predict what comes next,” Ms Palethorpe said.

She said there were numerous benefits to reading to children including helping with a child’s cognitive development, developing a child’s oral language and helping with emotional development.

“Reading with children at any age, earlier the better, is absolutely key to success,” Ms Palethorpe said.

She said reading exposed children to pictures, letters and words, shapes, sounds and names, and could build vocabulary and encourage them to talk about what they can see and think.

“Also, reading always tends to be a one-on-one or small group experience, and snuggling up with a book allows reading to become a nurturing activity that can bring a parent and child closer together,” Ms Palethorpe said.

Australian author Mem Fox says children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read.

On her website and in her book, Reading Magic, Fox advises reading at least three stories a day – even if it’s the same story.

“Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can learn to read. Or the same story a thousand times!” she said.

“Read the stories your child loves over and over and over again and always read in the same tune for each book, with the same intonations and volume and speed, on each page, each time. “

Her other tips include reading aloud with animation, read with joy and enjoyment. She also says letting children hear lots of language by talking to them about illustrations or songs that may be connected to the book.

Play games with the things that you can see on the pages, and read aloud ever day because you enjoy it and not because it’s the right thing to do.

A recent University of Queensland study shows the single most important determinant for a child’s success at school is how much they are exposed to reading from a young age.
Great books for reading to children:
  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • Possum Magic by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
  • Where is the Green Sheep by Mem Fox and Judy Horacek
  • The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
  • We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury
  • Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy by Lynley Dodd
  • Who Sank the Boat by Pamela Allen
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