Reading as vital as vaccination to build a smarter Australia

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Murdoch Childrens Research Institute has partnered with News Corp Australia to encourage Australian parents to help ‘raise a reader’ after new research reveals one in five children who started school this year don’t have the skills to learn properly.

20% of students, and 30% from disadvantaged areas, don’t understand enough words when they enter school to be able to learn how to read or thrive in other subjects.

These findings contained in yet-to-be-released work by the Centre for Independent Studies, highlights a young child’s vocabulary as one of the most powerful predictors for later school success.

As part of the ‘Raise a Reader’ campaign, News Corp will donate 10,000 books to distribute nationally to children via reading support programs, including the Let’s Read program, a collaboration between Murdoch Childrens and The Smith Family.

Professor Frank Oberklaid, Let’s Read spokesperson and researcher and literacy expert from Murdoch Childrens, said children’s brains are extremely receptive in their first three years, and parents can do a great deal during this period to improve their child’s literacy.

“It is those years before a child starts school that are so important for setting the foundations for future learning,” Professor Oberklaid said.

“In the same way you immunise your child against infectious disease, the best way to immunise your child against future reading failure is to read to them every day from a very young age,” he said.

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“We’re at a critical point where we need to ensure that parents recognise they all have responsibilities that sit alongside what happens in an early learning context and reading to children is vital,” he said.

With 3.5 million students returning to school, February is a critical month on the national literacy calendar.

From the weekend of February 6th and 7th, for two weeks, News Corp metro and regional newspapers will be encouraging Australians to help ‘Raise a Reader’ with the Dr. Seuss Superbly Sensational Collection.

“It is never too early to start reading to your child. Children start to anticipate the sounds of their mother and father’s voices, they come to look forward to and anticipate reading time as an enjoyable activity,” Professor Oberklaid said.

Everyone can grab a bargain Dr. Seuss book with purchases of News Corp papers during this campaign – there are 14 books to collect from next Sunday.

For ideas on sharing stories with young children check out Let’s Read’s reading tips.

(Source: Murdoch Childrens Research Institute)

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Date Created: February 6, 2016