There is a buzz around campus. Everyone has been eagerly anticipating Week 5. Carey Celebrates Literature has finally arrived! Due to COVID in 2020 the festival was cancelled, so it is an extra special event this year. From illustrator Bernard Caleo who presented to families on Monday, the authors who have been speaking to the children throughout the week, to the exciting activities in the library each lunchtime, there is something for everyone. With the focus on literature this week, one of the most important things you can do as a parent is instil that desire, the curiosity and interest, in reading.
Books can make you laugh, smile and cry, transport you into faraway lands, plunge you into an exciting adventure, and transform you into dragon-slaying sleuths, making you experience all the ‘feels’ along the way. Books can be magical and if we, as parents, treat them that way, our children will grow up believing that too.
So how might we, as parents, go about fostering this love for literature? The children learn reading skills at school, which many often associate with work, not pleasure. Your goal should be to encourage a love of books, both pictures and stories; we need to get them to see the enjoyment that can come from delving into a story.
Read aloud and ritualise reading time: The most effective way to encourage your children to love books and reading is to read aloud. Making this a special time when you share the pleasure of a story without the distractions of technology, creating a ‘cozy time’, a ritual of connection that is associated with love. This shared enjoyment will strengthen their interest in and appreciation for literature.
Model a love of reading: Children take their cues from adults; if they don’t see you read, why should they? When they grow up surrounded by books and seeing the adults in the household reading, it sends an important message; reading is not just to complete a comprehension task, but is fun. It could be argued that the best way to instil a love of reading is to demonstrate your own love for books.
Ask questions: Ask which characters they like best, what they think will happen next, what they would do in the same situation. It’s about checking in. You don’t want to over-focus on the letters and sounds at the expense of the story. Create an interest in what is being read.
Non-fiction may be a better fit: Some children prefer non-fiction books or magazines. Part of the appeal of these books is that they’re packed with real information, which some children prefer to fiction. Magazines help teach children that current information is valuable.
Visit our Library: The best help of all when choosing material is our Library staff. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from Ms Rolston or Mrs McRae as they know your children, they know about children’s literature, books that are good for reading aloud, and books on a particular subject recommended for particular age groups.
‘The benefits of reading are without dispute. Kids who are proficient readers tend to do better in school, have a larger vocabulary, and be better prepared for later academic challenges than kids who don’t pick up books.’ – Jake Rossen, 2019.
Books assist us in understanding our feelings, throw us into unfamiliar situations, provide information and tickle our imagination; they open up the world to us. Imagination is the Carey Positive Learner Attribute that is our focus for 2021. Books can help us support the development of this attribute in our children. Foster a love of literature and joy in reading in your children.
Supporting Library Resources
Our DR Brown Library is a very popular spot on our campus, and it houses much more than our wonderful collection of books: our library has access to some amazing online resources that enhance student learning. The most exciting of these is PebbleGo, which provides our students access to a wide range of informational articles, ready-made activities and literacy supports that cater for students of all abilities.
However, in order to continue our subscription of this service, we are seeking support from the Carey community through Community Giving. Any contribution helps, whether it’s small or large. You can specifically choose to support the Donvale library resources if you wish, or there are other initiatives available as well.
I hope you will be a part of providing this engaging, fun and effective resource for our students that fosters their independence and develops their skills in critical thinking. Go to the Carey Giving page for more information.
Deputy Head of Junior School Donvale