The Next Generation of Readers:
Parents, Caregivers, Aunties and Uncles and Friends: It’s time to stop what you are reading and spend time reading with your child or niece/nephew, the child you babysit. For myself, my job as a Children’s and Teens Librarian at Greerton Library, Tauranga- New Zealand includes setting up and running programmes that involve literacy and introducing the fun aspect of libraries to toddlers , primary school and then having activities to ensure that our generation in college- doesn’t slack off their literacy skills.
Picture books, though they may not seem much, they can teach a child hundreds if not millions of different things, topics –fill their heads with knowledge from learning to count to ten with Rainbow Fish, how to bake a cake with Maisy Mouse, what happens when you lose your first tooth or about the first day of school with Charlie and Lola or what about gardening with mum and dad taught by Sarah Garland’s picture books. What may seem like the simplest book to a parent , a few pages long with lots of pictures is teaching your child not only the knowledge of a topic but it is teaching them the most important skill in life – learning literacy.
I did a Primary school visit last year and the topic I decided to touch on was nursery rhymes and read a book about mixed up rhymes called Dear Mother Goose. The class was aged 8-9 years old and when I asked the class what a nursery rhyme was, I was astonished and more to see that only one child could tell me what a nursery rhyme was. Such a vital skill to learn and only one child. What is happening to teaching our children the skills of literacy?
The reason behind why I wanted to bring this topic up is for the next week, I am going to be talking at two school assemblies; the schools are Deciles 1 and 2. In New Zealand, there is an amazing project within Schools called Duffy Books started by Maori author Alan Duff. The aim was to introduce literature and books to those who normally wouldn’t receive books in their homes. The Duffy organisation gives each child a book. This year to incorporate the use of Public libraries within these children’s hearts and minds- they have offered a special card, where the child receives a stamp every time they visit the public library. Once the child has received a total of 5 stamps, the child receives a book of their very own. A scheme that I am happy to say is a part of in promoting literacy to our next generation of readers.
So Parents, Families, Friends – this post is a plea for you to sit down with your child , encourage another to read for only twenty minutes a day with them , teach them a nursery rhyme or two. All this encourages the child’s literacy skill pod. Next time, you head to your local library , check out whether they offer programmes to help the children and I’d be interested to see what others do in this situation to help improve and raise the bar .
Till next month, Read to your child for twenty minutes and it will make a world of difference.
Signing off, The Phantom Paragrapher.