Cover books in Nutella – SA children work with commissioner on ideas to boost reading
South Australia’s children’s commissioner, Helen Connolly, recently released a report comprised of ideas put together by children to boost interest in books and rates of reading.
The report title, Cover books in Nutella, was one of the many ‘fun’ ideas contributed by the children Ms Connolly consulted with as part of the Commissioner’s Children’s Stories event, held in the Mortlock chamber of the South Australian State Library.
The report was released last week as part of Adelaide Writers Week, an annual celebration of the written word. Ms Connolly’s event, which was co hosted by SA children’s book author and illustrator, Andrew Joyner, was designed to boost children’s confidence in expressing their own ideas by learning how to tap into their imagination and creativity through a series of activities.
The children participating in the workshop told Ms Connolly that they were “overwhelmingly enthusiastic” about books, and that reading is one of their favourite activities.
To encourage children to read more, they said, adults should “let them read while engaged in play,” because “reading passes the time, calms you down, distracts you from worries, and helps you learn more”.
Other popular ideas included more visits to libraries, finding opportunities to read as a group, and being in “read-a-thons” with team, rather than individual, prizes.
Reading “should be more fun and inclusive,” the children said, noting that there were ways to include their friends with dyslexia, by making the pages yellow, or by publishing books with more things to do in them than just read.
While the development of literacy skills is often seen as something adult educators “give” to children, encouraging children to participate in decisions through reading, writing and sharing ideas can help to validate their role as storytellers.
The report, Ms Connelly said, sends a strong message to parents and educators that literacy development is not just about being a passive receiver of information.
“Becoming literate is also about participation, and helping to develop a greater understanding of what literacy can do for you – what the benefits of developing skills such as reading, writing and storytelling are, and how this creates opportunities throughout life.”