Innovative literacy program aims to set up Bendigo’s youngest citizens with life long love

Innovative literacy program aims to set up Bendigo’s youngest citizens with life long love

by Freya Lucas

January 27, 2021

Eaglehawk Preschool, in the Victorian town of Bendigo, is the latest to sign up to children’s book service 123 Read2Me, which provides free books to children in low socioeconomic areas. 


Kathryn Rothacker, the teacher in charge of the program, said that for many of the young participants, receiving their books “has been like Christmas morning”, with parents also excited about bringing the magic of new stories home. 


Ms Rothacker told local publication Bendigo Advertiser that she hoped the stories would help to improve outcomes for the preschool children, many of whom she described as being vulnerable and having quite low literacy.


Before the program, many of the children reported having no picture books in the home, however since the program began, each child takes home a book a week, chosen by their teacher to be compatible with their interests, which they are then allowed to keep. 


Through the introduction of quality stories, the children have gained access not only to the stories themselves, but to a range of vocabulary, themes and concepts which they may not otherwise have experienced. 


The introduction of new themes and words allows the children not only to experience the world through stories, but to make improvements in their speech and general knowledge, both of which support them to have a strong start to school. 


Parents and carers love the connection the books bring, with one family saying that the books “are a lifesaver” at home. 


“Those children hold it close to their heart. It’s a really important thing that someone’s valued them enough to give them a book,” Ms Rothacker explained. 


The preschool has received about 700 books in total, enough to send each child home with a book every week.


More information about 123 Read2Me is available on the organisation’s website, here. To read the original coverage of this story, see here