Kids and literacy

Get kids reading

I just found out that yesterday was Family Literacy Day in the US (I don’t know if it was the same in Australia). Literacy is a big issue in Australia too…

I am incredibly lucky. Both my boys love to read. They have just turned 8 and 10, and are reading the Harry Potter books. They both have a huge pile of books they received for their birthdays and for Christmas, including the Macquarie Dictionary Mr Z, age 8, asked for. Both boys are advanced in their reading, and Mr Z would choose long, challenging words for his weekly spelling words.

There are many families that aren’t so lucky. Some friends of ours are struggling to get their son to read. He sees it as a chore, something to work at, so he hates reading.

For Christmas, we gave him some Zac Power Test Drive books. They are aimed at early readers and are fun. He hasn’t looked at them yet because they are “taking a break” from the work of reading.

This is a foreign concept in our family.

Part of why my kids love reading so much is that we have encouraged reading for fun, and make sure we have a lot of books that the boys enjoy reading, and that we enjoy reading with them. Both kids have refused to take home readers from school since the start of grade 1 because the stories were boring!

Because my kids read so much, they have found spelling really easy. How many people have a 7 year old boy who chooses “Accommodating” as a spelling word, and spells it correctly first time?

I believe that one of the keys to literacy (there are many, and I’m not an expert, just a Mum, author and lover of words) is to provide kids with a wide variety of reading material that interests them. This includes books, magazines, graphic novels, and anything else they can get their hands on. Make reading fun. Even if kids are struggling with reading, give them books with a fun story that they will enjoy.

If the kids are enjoying the story, then parents will enjoy reading with them too. I know I hated the readers the boys were reading! In Grade 1, Mr Z (age 6) started reading Winnie the Pooh out loud, and this book was deemed at Grade 6 level! We enjoyed hearing him read this.

Part of what I want to do with the Jimmy James stories is to create stories that kids, especially boys, will want to read. They’re no Harry Potter, but they will be fun.

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Comments

  1. Yes indeed, making reading fun is absolutely key. I read voraciously as a child — if anyone had suggested I “take a rest” from reading, I think I’d have seen it as a punishment!

    I’m so glad your kids love reading so much. Maybe, in time, if they continue to model reading as fun for their friend, he’ll come on board, too.

    Thanks so much for posting about literacy. It’s so important.

    • Thanks Beth. Zac Power is one of my kids favourite book series which is why we gave it to our friends 🙂 I also would have seen taking a break from reading as punishment!

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