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Reading program pays off for all ages

Goodstart centres

A reading challenge which started in the toddler room in 2012 has been expanded at Goodstart West Melton, Victoria, to more than 100 children at the centre.

The Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge was undertaken by the whole centre this year, with all of the children receiving a certificate for their hard work.

Educational leader Christine Allen said taking part in the challenge was a way of promoting literacy and encouraging families to be more involved at the centre.

“Educators worked together to choose the 40 sets of books that were read to the children in the different rooms,” Ms Allen said.

“Many of our educators were able to supplement the centre’s books with their own and we found we had a huge range to choose from.
“It was a very exciting day when we received the children's certificates and these have been included in their learning journals.”

Favourite books included the Spot series, by Eric Hill, for the younger children, and Aliens Love Underpants, by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort, in the kindergarten room.

“The challenge really helped to expose our children to early literacy which will help them with their learning later on in life,” Ms Allen said. “It was a huge challenge but to expose children to so many different books was great.”

Educators encourage literacy through many different mediums, including using puppets to tell stories, plays to act our scenes, and a borrowing library within the centre.

“We do anything and everything to ensure our children are being exposed to books and reading. Our library often doesn’t have any books on the shelves because they’ve all been taken home.”

Researchers have found that spending just 15 minutes reading to children each night can greatly increase a child’s academic outcomes and increase their cognitive skills.

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.

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.

The study also revealed that reading to children six or seven days per week has the same effect as being almost 12 months older.
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
 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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