A Message from the Head of Junior Years

28 July 2017

“I just love reading books” was a comment that I heard the other day from one of our Year 2 girls. She is not alone - it’s a regular comment. A visit to our library, particularly during a cold lunchtime, will see a number of girls on iPads and tablets, and others curled up on lounges and the floor engrossed in the books, sharing them with their friends or reading alone.

Sometimes, we question the relevance of ‘real’ books in these days of ebooks and the availability of literature through technology with online sources, yet in the Junior Years, it is clear to see that our girls love nothing more than delving into the pages of a book to experience the excitement and fantasy that these books provide. In Semester 1 alone, 16,872 books have been borrowed by Junior Years girls for their work and recreation.

We might think that children are more likely to read if it is on a device such as an iPad or Kindle, but research by Professor Margaret Merga, Lecturer and Researcher in Adolescent Literacy, Health Promotion and Education from Murdoch University in a study on 997 children from Year 4 and Year 6, shows that this is not necessarily the case. Those who had regular access to devices with eReading capability (such as Kindles, iPads and mobile phones) did not tend to use their devices for reading - and this was the case even when they were daily book readers (2016 Western Australian Study in Children's Book Reading). Research also found that the more devices to which a child had access, the less they read in general. Encouragement and role modelling by adults with reading is therefore crucial to their later success as readers.

“The popularity of physical books is borne out by Aust­ralian market figures, with Nielsen BookScan reporting children’s book sales rose 18 per cent between 2012 and 2016, while the Association of American Publishers reports e-books sales fell 14 per cent in 2015.” (Leanne Edmistone, Courier-Mail June 22 2017)

Unfortunately, many primary schools have chosen to reallocate their teacher resources away from having a fully qualified Teacher Librarian to work with their children and staff. In fact, there are less than a third of Toowoomba’s primary schools  (approximately 40 primary schools in the local area) who have a Teacher librarian. We know the value that Mrs Miegel, as a fully qualified Teacher Librarian, adds to the children’s lives through her love and passion for literature and the sharing of this with our girls at this critical stage in their reading development.  

Here are some tips for encouraging your child to read. These are all supported by research as being successful. These include:

  • As adults, be seen to enjoy reading. 
  • Create reading-friendly spaces. Loud noises, poor lighting and numerous distractions will not help provide an enjoyable reading experience, and are likely to lead to frustration.
  • Encourage regular silent reading of books. 
  • Adults should talk about books or articles in magazines, sharing ideas and recommendations.
  • Continue to encourage your child to read for pleasure. Children tend to become disengaged with books over time. For some, this can be due to withdrawal of encouragement once children can read on their own. This may lead to them thinking that reading is no longer important once they have the basic skills. Yet reading remains important for both children and adults to build and retain literacy skills throughout their life.
  • Find out what your child enjoys reading, and support their access to books, both at school and at home. 
  • Join the Toowoomba Regional Library as a family.
  • Limit screen time, and model reading as an enjoyable pastime for all members of the family

Mr Steve Warren
Head of Junior Years

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