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Plenty of books to borrow at Kangaroo Flat

Goodstart centres

Spending just 15 minutes reading to children each night can greatly increase a child’s academic outcomes and increase their cognitive skills, according to researchers.
Reading to young children: a head start in life, authored by G Kalb and J.C. van Ours, reveals parental reading to children increases the child’s reading and other cognitive skills at least up to the age of 10 or 11 years old.
Goodstart Kangaroo Flat’s centre director Pauline Birch is well aware of the academic benefits, and said reading to children was also great for bonding and providing a little quiet time in a child’s daily life.
She has set up a library in the foyer of the centre which has become a resounding success in just three months, with more than 200 books on offer.
Ms Birch said she set up the library to help families and children who may not otherwise have exposure to books.

The centre was recently recognised in the Goodstart annual award program, where it won a major award in the family connections category. 
Research shows reading aloud to children has many benefits – from sparking their imaginations, helping them build literacy skills and allowing safe ways to explore emotions.
“When we first came up with the library idea we thought about the children, but the parents also enjoy reading so we’ve sourced books for them, and then the eight -14 year old siblings were keen  as well so we’ve expanded to cater for them,” Ms Birch said.
“Alongside the library we placed comfortable chairs to entice families and children to sit together and explore the range of books displayed,” she said. “And the range of books is increasing weekly with donations being given to the centre on a continual basis,” Ms Birch said.

“With older siblings arriving in the morning with younger members of the family, these children now spend time at the library and will make suggestions to me about new titles and series. We are gradually increasing books to entice this age group to borrow from our library.”
She said the library was also used by the children and educators so children could understand the importance of caring for the books and returning them to their owner.
“This is an important life skill that we hope the children will continue to practice throughout their lives.”
Parents help with monetary donations, and bookshops in the Bendigo area have jumped on board, helping supply books.
Ms Birch said two of the most popular books on the shelves included The Circle by Jeannie Baker and All Kinds of Families by Mary Ann Hoberman.
The library had also been recently expanded to include toys such as floor puzzles and connecting games, and will eventually include have quality educational resources.
“I’ve found that since we have had the library operating, there is a new excitement in the
children. They love seeing the new books and we’ve been really encouraging them to use their writing skills a lot more,” she said.

Other benefits can include:
  • Stimulating imagination and play
  • Building a bond with children
  • Boosting vocabulary
  • Provoking discussion about issues
  • Introducing quiet time in to a child’s daily life
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