How to Raise a Reader with Megan Daley

As you would be aware, St Finbarr’s SMART goal this year is related to literacy, in particular reading progress in the Early Years with a writing focus in Years 3-6.  While we are highly committed to effectively teaching reading across the school and ensuring each student progresses in their reading, we are equally as committed to developing a love of reading in our children.  Evidence clearly indicates that if we want our children to thrive, teaching them to read is not enough – they must also enjoy it!

To this end, our short English cycles always revolve around a core piece of literature, carefully selected from a range of the most contemporary texts curated by our Teacher Librarian, Dom Gardiner.  Children are encouraged to participate in ‘Hooked on Books’ (book club), borrow from the library each week and read every day at school and at home, whilst Book Week and our annual LitFest are highly anticipated dates on the school calendar.  It is these sorts of activities which keep the joy of reading alive in our children.

Keeping in mind our commitment to promoting a love of reading both at school and at home, yesterday St Finbarr’s hosted Megan Daly from ‘Children’s Books Daily’ for an educators' session and a parent and community session.  The response from both sessions was overwhelmingly positive.  It was an absolute privilege to listen to Megan and absorb her wisdom about nurturing a child’s love of books!

It is a challenging task to summarise Megan’s key messages as there were so many gems of wisdom; however, I’ve chosen 3 takeaway messages to share with you:

1. Reading aloud with passion:  From birth and beyond, when a loved adult reads aloud with a child, the child hears the rhythm of words, expression and emotion, and builds a rich and diverse network of words.  Children should be read-to often, no matter how old they are.

2. Home readers Vs library books: Megan spoke about the difference between home readers and library books and why each have an important place in teaching children to read, encouraging a love of reading and building children’s confidence as readers.  Megan summarised the difference between these two types of texts in the below slide, commenting that “Next time your child brings home a repetitive, seemingly monotonous home reader, know that the purpose is to teach them the skill of reading through predictable storylines, strong picture clues and sight words, whilst developing their reading confidence.”

3. Find quality books your child wants to read: Expose children to a variety of text types (a combination of both fiction and non-fiction) and help them find their identity as a reader.  Look for books which have won literary awards, ask your librarian for recommendations, get to know your local book shop (many of which offer children’s book clubs) and browse blogs and social media accounts for age-appropriate book suggestions (such as the Facebook group ‘Your Kid’s Next Read’).

Megan has no doubt inspired us to continue our mission to nurture our children’s love of books and with Book Week only one week away, what a great incentive to sit down tonight and read a book with your child!

Happy reading!

Rachael Blaney (PLL), Emily Olsen (e-Learning Coordinator) and Dom Gardiner (Teacher Librarian)