Josh O'Shea reads to 16-month-old Olivia Peel.
Josh O'Shea reads to 16-month-old Olivia Peel.

C'mon dad, read me a story

By LEE McDOUGALL

IF YOU are reading this article, then chances are you are not among the 20 per cent of Australians aged between 15 and 74 who can't read. Twenty per cent? That can't be right! Well, unfortunately, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, that figure is spot on. Even more frightening is the fact that a national survey of the literacy standards of Australian children found that nearly 30 per cent of Year 3 and Year 5 students failed to meet the appropriate grade reading standard. So is Australia ? for so long proud to call itself the 'clever' country ? failing its young citizens? Apparently the answer is yes. When parents are asked 'will your child walk' the natural response is 'yes, of course'. Yet when asked 'will your child read?' the response is more often 'I hope so'. In a bid to change this response to 'of course', Uniting Care Burnside Coffs Harbour yesterday launched its Let's Read early literacy initiative. "Let's Read has been designed to encourage and support parents and carers to read with their young children from 0 to five years," Uniting Care Burnside community worker Helen Barrett said. Ms Barrett said that through the Let's Read program, parents learn that reading aloud to their children from an early age is the most important activity they can do to help their children learn to love books and read. "Let's Read has been developed by the Centre for Community Child Health in partnership with The Smith Family using research evidence, feedback from community consultations and members of a reference group, and a feasibility study," Ms Barrett said. A steering committee has been established in Coffs Harbour to determine the best way to deliver the message of the importance of reading to our children into the community. Over the coming months, the Let's Read program will be rolled out across the Coffs Coast.



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