Rochelle Borton explores how books can transport young readers to new worlds, ignite their imagination, and foster a lifelong love for reading.
Reading is a skill that opens your eyes to new ideas and exciting ways of thinking. It could be argued that reading is the most important skill that a child can and should learn. To think that there was a time in our history that reading was not taught and books were a tool of exclusion, and that reading was a privilege not a right. Books carry history, illuminate scientific fact, and create the space for imagination. The advent of e-books, illustrated novels, comics and magazines are firmly entrenched in popular culture.
“Reading creates the opportunities and challenges children face as they grow. Fiction books carry the colour, fun and characters that children can identify with as they begin to understand themselves.”
Each stage of the industrial revolution can be traced in books. The social, cultural, and political events that have shaped our communities can be read, and between each page are the human stories that stir our emotions. Every generation can lay claim to a famous writer, a poet or simply a collection of letters written from one to another. Books are celebrated in our culture as they are in others. Australian bush poets and authors such as Henry Lawson and Banjo Patterson put words to paper, creating a rich note to our history. Miles Franklin, Oodgeroo Noonuccal, and Dorothea Mackellar have crafted the words that convey powerful imagery of our country. There are not many country towns that are not described or referenced in Australian writing.
The magic that Mem Fox weaved around possums continues to spin around classrooms and libraries alike. Harry Potter and his magical friends, the Cat in the Hat and Jetty Jumping are favourites. Books can be the treasure in which your child finds a smile, chases wonder and, all at once, becomes engaged with learning.
Reading creates the opportunities and challenges children face as they grow. Fiction books carry the colour, fun and characters that children can identify with as they begin to understand themselves. Textbooks might seem to be less adventurous, but for the children who love numbers or have the desire to learn about science, books that explain the ‘how to’ and the ‘why?’ open the doors to learning. Parents and teachers share the experiences of children learning to read and that child growing into a creative thinker.
There is a direct correlation between the level of academic achievement and reading ability. Children develop their sense of agency though reading. Kucirkova (2022) described children’s motivation to read being shaped by their experience of reading for pleasure, and how this influences lifelong attitudes toward learning. Digital books and all manner of interactive texts can overwhelm a reader, highlighting the important role that books still have. Books don’t need batteries, nor recharging!
There are many physical descriptions of books; the smell of worn pages, the turned over top edge of the page when a bookmark was not around. Picture books, short stories, poetry, and plays can take a mundane day and sprinkle it with wonder and delight. There is little doubt that reading is more than an escape, books create meaning and understanding. Reading is instructive and engages children in learning.
‘Read, Grow, Inspire’ was this year’s theme for Book Week. The Children’s Book Council of Australia has highlighted texts for every age group and category, and there is sure to be a book to every child would love to read!
About the Author
Rochelle Borton is the Founder and Managing Director of EduInfluencers, which is an organisation that provides professional development programs, workshops, coaching and strategic consulting for educators, teams, schools and school leaders.