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Thursday, September 8, 2011

TOPIC: International Literacy Day

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!'

That was when I dragged out the pile of books I'd brought along to show them - Star Wars:The Complete Visual Dictionary (where I met Yoda, the Jedi master), The Encyclopedia of Star Trek (where I'd stood on the bridge of the USS Enterprise), a book on Jupiter (my visit to that planet), Walking with Dinosaurs (my trip back in time), Treasure Island (my adventure with pirates)...and so on.

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!


  1. Good for you, Kylie. I think children who don't grow to love books lose so much. My grandson had a full bookshelf by the time he was 2!

  2. As a kid I can remember being bought some of the classics by my grandparents - Black Beauty, abridged versions of Treadure Island, Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, Oliver Twist, The Tale of Two Cities, etc.

    Then as I grew older I discovered one set of grandparents had all the "adult" versions on their bookshelves and so I'd read them when I went to visit. Add to the list books like The Three Musketeers, Pollyanna series, Anne of Green Gables series, Huckleberry Finn, The Terms of His Natural Life - many of these I inherited when they died. I love going back and reading them as they hold such fond memories of my grandparents love for books and the images reading them formed in my mind.

    Nothing pleases me more than to give a book to a child as a gift and see them value it.

  3. Wow, Kylie. You'll be one of those "school memories" in years to come when the kids tell their kids why they should read. Awesome! I hope you have more kids come up and tell you their adventures. What a brilliant way to spark a love of reading!


  4. Kylie, did your parents share my parents bookshelf? Seriously!!! LOL
    I think kids are missing out on a great deal by not being able to lose themselves in a book. Then again, my eldest daughter finds reading a drag - a chore - quite unlike my other two, so I guess it's whatever rocks the boat.

  5. As long as they're reading, Cath, they can remember me any way they like! LOL

    And Mel, hate to say it, but we share the same generation/growing up era! I think it's called showing our age. :-D

  6. Go you and spreading the love of reading, Kylie!!

  7. Kylie

    The very first book I can recall falling in love with was Heidi. I so wanted to be her and cry "grandfather, grandfather," while running across the alps! Then i discovered the Famous Five by Enid Blyton and my time was spent imagining hidden caves along beachlines and catching smugglers storing their treasures within. After that it was Laura Ingalls Wilder, and of course all the Anne of Green Gables. I also recall being totally in love with Girl of the Limberlost - I can't remember the author though. I was at the library at least 3 times a week and would read approx 7 books a week. I read everything in the junior section and moved into the teenage section only to discover angst and yearning and love. Sigh..... I've been hooked ever since.

  8. LOL, Rowena! And how could I have forgotten the Famous Five!!! I also went through a phase of The Secret Seven, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and I loved the Little House on the Prairie books!!!

    Like you I cleaned out the JF section in the town library in the first couple of years and they had trouble keeping up with my orders.

    Oh, and I love the Asterix cartoon series - loved, loved, loved the humour in them, still do.