By Greg Whitby, Catholic Outlook, December 2016
The summer holidays of childhood are unforgettable: Santa photos, the smell of chlorine or salt from days swimming in the backyard pool or beach, afternoon thunderstorms, mozzies and, of course, the heat! But if you’re like me, your childhood memories might have included pirates and princesses, convicts and cowboys, moon landings and mysteries.
That’s because I was lucky enough to discover a love of reading from a very young age and that’s why each year, I challenge students across the Diocese of Parramatta to make reading a real feature of their summer break.
Through the Executive Director’s Summer Reading Challenge we are encouraging students to READ, READ, READ! The more a student reads, the more times they can enter, and the more chances they have of winning one of four iPad minis (where you can download some amazing e-books to read).
As an educator, it’s hard not to love stories. They are such a great way to learn and to teach. During Christmas, many of our students will be learning about the story of the birth of Jesus. It’s such a familiar story that perhaps those of us who know it well don’t always stop to consider what it teaches us about God’s love for us.
Every year in the December heat, students from St Agnes Catholic High School, Rooty Hill, put on a large-scale nativity play. The whole school gathers in the playground for a moving reenactment of the extraordinary events leading up to the birth of Christ, complete with real camels, costumes and a ‘borrowed’ baby playing the role of Jesus. This special storytelling is such a powerful way to share the good news of the incarnation.
In the same spirit, I wish our students, staff and families a holy Advent and joyful Christmas.
Greg Whitby is Executive Director of Schools in the Diocese of Parramatta.
PS: if you haven’t finished your Christmas shopping why not consider a book for the children and teenagers in your life? Local libraries are also a great resource in encouraging reading and often have excellent school holiday programs. Curl up with a book yourself and be a reading role model. Happy reading!
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