Helping kids to dive into books

By Greg Whitby, 21 August 2019
Greg Whitby AM is Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta.


Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

Can you remember the book that made you a reader? As an English teacher, you might expect me to name a well-known classic. In reality, it was the much less literary, ‘Biggles Flies High’.

These days I like to read history (especially Australian history) and biography. My all-time favourite book is Xavier Herbert’s great Australian novel ‘Poor Fellow My Country’, but I started with Biggles!

Most of all, I love to read to my grandkids to help them become readers too. Some of our favourites are ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, ‘Who Sank the Boat?’, ‘Pongo the Pirate’ and anything by Dr Seuss.

Here are a few tips to help kids learn to love reading:

  • Talk to your kids non-stop
  • If you’re lucky enough to have a first language other than English, share it with your kids to show them how words work
  • Read to your kids from the time they are babies and don’t stop when they learn to read themselves
  • Find out what books are best for their age and where they are at with their reading
  • Go to the library, borrow everything you can
  • Let them read what they enjoy (within reason)
  • Be a reader yourself (and if you’re not yet, there’s still time for you too).

This Book Week, I know parents and carers will be madly rushing to rustle up complicated costumes for character parades. As you’re crafting a Pig the Pug costume from papier mache or wiring some Pippi Longstocking plaits, perhaps take a moment to consider the tips above.

What’s the best way to celebrate Book Week? Do everything you can to help the young people in your life become life-long readers, even if it involves impressive dress-up costume design skills, a glue gun and a lot of imagination!

Greg Whitby AM
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta


Greg Whitby is the Executive Director of Schools - Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta
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