Being International Literacy Day I couldn't go past posting about the joy of reading books.
Earlier this year the local school decided to participate in a reading program to encourage the love of literacy and reading.
As part of the program all the children at the school were given a special book bag and 4 books (that they got to choose) each term to start a home library. The spin off - developing their reading skills and hopefully, a life-long love of books and reading.
I was invited by the principal to come and speak to the children about books and reading and to help present the books and book bags to them at a special assembly. As a teacher and author there's nothing I'm more passionate about than books and reading, so I was thrilled to be asked.
The tough part of the task was deciding what to speak to the children about. With ages ranging from 5-13y.o., engaging their attention meant I had to keep the talk short but interesting.
So, I decided to start by asking the children a heap of questions about their life experiences and having them raise their hands.
Questions like - Who's ever been to Africa? Or Jupiter? Has anyone ever worked as a detective? Or clown in a circus? Has anyone ever stood on the bridge of a starship? Or met a Jedi master? Ever been on the deck of a pirate ship? Have you ever gone back in time to see the dinosaurs? Has anyone ever seen a gryphon?
Can you imagine some of the facial expressions when I mentioned having met a Jedi master or that I'd gone back in time to see the dinosaurs?
Wide eyes, frowns, nervous glances to their teacher as if to say 'who is this weird woman? You invited a crazy lady to speak to us!'
I spoke to them about how we can be whatever we want, go wherever we want, participate in any sort of adventure, all by just opening the cover of a book and reading it. And the books they were getting thanks to this program would help them do just that.
As I helped hand out the book bags, I took the books out of each child's bag to discover what sorts of adventures they would go on (and I even envied over some of their choices!). It was an absolute pleasure to see them all dive into their bags and show their parents the books.
But what really made me grin...the other day one of the older boys approached me at the local shop to tell me of the adventures he'd been on.
He'd been to a birthday party (one of the scenes from the I Spy book he'd chosen). He'd discovered the joy of reading a book. I hope he continues to read and learns to love it as much as I do.
One of the singular, most powerful gifts you can ever give a child is the love of reading.
And the way to start? Share the wonders of what you love about reading and then give them a book!