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Share a book with a child this Christmas

Goodstart centres

Reading to young children is widely regarded as one of the single most beneficial things a parent can do for their child.

We’ve talked before about the importance of developing literacy skills in early childhood. They are foundational skills for school and adult life, and early childhood provides the most fertile ground for these skills to be seeded.

A failure to master literacy skills by adulthood can have serious consequences, ranging from the many hidden costs and stigmas associated with not being able to read and write effectively through to poor health and employment prospects.

There are many ways that parents can support early literacy development at home, and the one that always comes out on top is the simplest of them all; picking up a booking and reading it.

But first, what is literacy and why is it so important?
Most people think about literacy in terms of being able to read and write and yes, being literate does require a level of skill in those two areas. But literacy actually has a much broader context.

It speaks to a person’s ability to not only read and write but also design, speak and listen in a way that allows them to communicate effectively and make sense of the world.

Being literate is about having the ability to absorb information in many forms, think critically about it and make informed decisions.

In everyday life, this can manifest itself in many important ways like being able to understand labels, interpreting information relating to your own health, understanding legal obligations, or being productive in employment.

Pick up a book and share it with a child
That is the simple message from Australia’s chief scientist, Dr Alan Finkel.

In his recent article, Dr Finkel describes how the simple act of reading to a child is a powerful tool parents can use to help prepare children for an uncertain future.

In a world increasingly intruded by technology, it’s tempting for parents to look for technological solutions to prepare children for the future. But as Dr Finkel points out, there are few better tools than books for developing vocabulary, knowledge, creativity, concentration, or skills of reasoning and pattern recognition.

Whatever the future holds, the skills developed from the humble book are sure to be valuable.

What books should you read?
Dr Finkel’s advice is simple: the best book is the one you read. It’s not something that you need to overthink.

Peta Wilkinson, centre director at Goodstart Endeavour Hills Barnsley Drive believes that first and foremost books should be fun for children, as this helps develop a love of reading which will continue to grow as they get older.

“Some books may be better than others but at this age you really just want to ensure children are having fun and developing a love of reading, though we do have some particular favourites in our centre,” Peta said.

“We love Nick Bland’s books The Very Noisy Bear, and The Wrong Book. His stories have lots of different voices, repetition and musical instruments and are perfect for engaging children and getting them to join in.

“We also love books with underlying messages that allow us to build other learning opportunities into the storytelling.

“Wombat Stew by Marcia Vaughan is a great example of this. We can explore the different quantities the animals use in their stew, the science of cooking, and the emotions the animals feel as they trick the dingo.

“For parents, one of the greatest things you can do for your children is to instil in them a love of reading and books.”
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