The Joy of Reading

Amy Woodgate | Head of Junior and Middle Schools

“We need to actually teach kids that books aren’t like broccoli.  No adult ever read a book because it’s good for us.  We read because it’s fun.”

Jackie French (Australian Author)

Literacy is much more than writing a story, sending an email or increasing a child’s reading age.  It is the ability to engage in the world, both inside and outside of the classroom, both now and into the future.  Literacy is a fundamental skill for learning across all subject areas.

Providing children with a language-rich environment at home and at school is an important way of supporting their literacy development.  A language-rich environment exposes a child to a variety of words, texts and images for reading, writing, listening and creating.  They are able to hear and use interesting vocabulary, explore information, and experiment with ways of making meaning and sharing ideas.  Playing with words, hearing words like ‘spectacular’, ‘ginormous’, ‘radiant’ and ‘enticing’, even at a very young age, teaches children that language can be fun and that they can understand the meaning of words that they may not yet be able to actually decode or write.

Reading is a thinking task.  Effective readers do more than simply decode the words in a text.  Effective readers think about what they have read, and they know how to use their prior knowledge to access, understand, use and evaluate a text.  Good readers are flexible in how they approach a text and know that each reading task may have a different purpose.  They may read for pleasure or they may read to gather information.  They may read a text designed to persuade, or they may be asked to read a text that requires a response.  Good readers read for understanding, for information and for enjoyment.

Mem Fox is passionate about books and our children developing a love of reading.  In her text, ‘Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud To Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever’, Mem explains that she wants reading aloud to a child ‘to sound like chocolate’.  It should be enjoyable for everyone involved.  It can be a time to play with language, to discuss themes from the story, to look at letters, sounds and rhyme, and a time to just simply enjoy delightful storytelling.

Mem Fox has developed her ‘Ten Read Aloud Commandments’ as a way to encourage children, families and teachers to develop a love for reading.

  • Spend at least ten wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud
  • Read at least three stories a day
  • Read aloud with animation
  • Read with joy and enjoyment
  • Read the stories that your child loves over and over and over again
  • Let children hear lots of language
  • Look for rhyme, repetition, and rhythm in books
  • Play games with the things that appear on the page… it isn’t work, it’s always a fabulous game
  • Never teach reading or get tense around books
  • Read aloud because you adore being with your child, not just because it is ‘the right thing to do’

Last week, SCOTS PGC College celebrated Book Week 2019.  The theme for this year’s Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Week was ‘Reading is my secret power’.  The aim of this week is to celebrate Australian children’s literature and bring children and books together.  At SCOTS PGC College, our students thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to take part in the book character parade.  We saw everything from Olga the Brolga to Mary Poppins to Harry Potter.  There were superheroes, kings, queens, princesses, book fairies and everything in between.  It was certainly a celebration of books!

The inaugural Book Week Family Night initiated by Mrs Peterson was also a wonderful way to come together as a school community, share a meal, and most importantly, share a book.  It was lovely to see some of our staff, our School Captains and Senior Prefects also come along and share their love of reading with our younger students.

Happy Reading!