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Let's Read - The Australian Government's Call to Families of Young Children

A National Early Literacy Campaign launched this week in Australia aims to see all Australian children gain the foundation skills for language, literacy, and ultimately, learning success.  Let’s Read is an Australian Government initiative developed by Royal Children’s Hospital’s Centre for Community Child Health, to be implemented by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The Smith Family.  The campaign delivers this important message -  reading with children aged 0-5 years is probably the single-most important activity parents can do with their children to enhance their child’s future ability to read and write.

After undertaking an extensive literature review to determine which approaches to early literacy learning are successful, Let’s Read targets:-

  • shared reading between child and care giver;
  • easy accessibility to age appropriate free books;
  • community professionals who can provide guidance to families and model shared reading practices to parents;
  • development of specific language skills such as the ability to identify the names and sounds of letters, an ability to identify and manipulate sounds, and an understanding of the rules of language (e.g., reading left to right).

As literacy is thought to be ‘experience dependent’, bringing books into the home and supporting parents to read with their children from as young as four months of age, is expected to lay the building blocks for successful literacy achievement even before children start primary school.  Visiting the local library, and utilising services such as story time and activities are recommended as excellent, free opportunities to add literacy opportunities to a child’s life.

Quoting the alarming statistic that almost half (46%) of Australians over the age of 15 lack the literacy skills they need to meet the demands of everyday life and work, and that more than one in five children arrive at school developmentally vulnerable, the program is laying down the groundwork for extensive reach into the community.

Let’s Read  is encouraging community groups such as public schools, councils and libraries to take up the challenge of implementing early literacy programs within their local area.  And professionals with close and trusting relationships with families, such as community health nurses, playgroup co-ordinators, community workers and community elders are identified as being eligible for training to help develop children’s emergent literacy skills.

Parents can download a free reading pack which includes resources such as tips for reading with children of different ages, reading tips for indigenous families, and colouring-in sheets.

Community groups can register their interest  to start a Let’s Read program in their community, and professionals can also access training and resources online.

For more information, visit the Let's Read website

Image from Let's Read