Welcome to the SPCA Reading Challenge!
We’re happy you’re here and excited to offer up this fun competition to support your child’s reading for enjoyment.
Why is reading important for children?
Reading is an essential life skill. Books contain new words that will help build your child's language and understanding. When students read for pleasure they are likely to read more frequently and gain all the benefits of enhancing their literacy skills, learning outcomes, empathy, social skills and wellbeing.
Our friends at National Library's Services to Schools have a range of excellent blog posts about the importance of reading: click here to browse them.
Reading with children is fun. It's a time for closeness, laughing and talking. It can also give children a flying start in life and help them become lifelong readers.
Joy Cowley’s 2018 lecture, The Power of Story is available here to listen to, or download for free as an e-book.
Another thing we can do to encourage our children to become lifelong readers is to make reading visible. Our director Juliet writes a bit more about that here.
The joy of re-reading
Re-reading can be wonderful for people of all ages. But for children, it provides important benefits:
- Reading a familiar book repeatedly can build fluency through practice. Newly independent readers need lots of practice to get past the word by word choppy reading into fluent reading.
- Sometimes children find it hard to find a new book they want to read. Re-reading a favourite is a great way to 'fill the gap'' until a new book comes along.
- Re-reading the same book (or books within the same series) can help build stronger bonds between the reader and the characters and setting - it's like reconnecting with a friend and brings comfort and happiness.
- Most importantly, re-reading a favourite book reminds children they enjoy reading, and they love the secure world created inside that book. This is a great article by Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney on the subject.
How can we support and encourage our children to read more? One of the best things you can do to encourage your child to read more is to read more yourself. Let children see that reading is something you love to do. Talk to them about the books you like.
This page of tips and ideas, including some for reluctant readers, from the UK's Book Trust is an excellent place to start.
This page from NZ's Ministry of Education has a wealth of ideas and tips for supporting children of different ages.
Auckland librarian and children's book expert Crissi Blair shares her best advice about reading with children. We loved this gem from Crissi:
The best advice is to have lots of books in the home and read to your kids at every opportunity. You can read to the tiniest of babies and they will respond, and learn to love the experience of being close to you and enjoying books together. Owning books is terrific, and children will quickly express their love for particular books over others. But ownership isn’t everything; you can sign your child up for a library card as a baby and borrow a stack of books every week or two.
Click here for tips and advice from Australian children's book writer and literacy teacher Mem Fox.
The UK's National Literacy Trust has some great resources. Have a look at this page: Ways to keep your child's reading up while schools are closed.
More resources and links
There is a treasure trove of information just waiting for you at The Sapling: Conversations about children's books, including this collection of book lists featuring everything from books about allergies to coding, bestsellers to grief, pacifism to family life.