Parent engagementReading

Raising readers

“When I say to a parent, ‘read to a child’, I don’t want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate.” — Mem Fox, acclaimed Australian children’s author

Reading should never be a chore. Yet so often encouraging children to pick up a book, instead of a tablet or a toy, can seem just that. And simply telling them to read is a short journey to frustration.

Countless experts, studies, schools and teachers tell parents that one of the most important things we can do for our children is read with and to them and encourage them to read often and widely.

Research on reading

Analysis of the test results of 15-year-olds across the world in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and a special parent survey on their reading involvement and habits revealed:

  • Fifteen-year-old students whose parents often read books with them during their first year of primary school show markedly higher scores in PISA 2009 than students whose parents read with them infrequently or not at all
  • The performance advantage among students whose parents read to them in their early school years is evident regardless of the family’s socio-economic background.
  • Parents’ engagement with their 15-year-olds is strongly associated with better performance in PISA.

But in the busyness of modern family life, where jam-packed schedules dictate our every waking movement, reading can be a casualty for everyone – parents included.

Sometimes fresh guidance and ideas, combined with a window of quiet opportunity is all you need to ignite or re-ignite the reading flame.

Fostering readers

Create the conditions in your home to make reading effortless:

  • Role-model reading | Be the reader you want your child to be
  • Make the time | Consider setting aside one hour during the week when everyone’s home to read together or talk about what your child has read or is reading at school
  • Create a home library | Create a simple area in your home, with your children, where appropriate books are stored and easily accessible by everyone in the family.
  • Choose the right book | Switch children on to reading with a good book that they want to read. It may take a few goes to find the right one, but be persistent.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss


School and Community Librarians | Choosing the right book to engage your child can be half the battle. The first and best place to start is the teacher-librarian at your child’s school or the librarians at your local library. They are passionate advocates and authorities on books. Tap into their expertise. Find a local library near you.

Queensland Government | Every year schools across the state take part in the Premier’s Reading Challenge. As part of the initiative book lists are developed to help parents and students with age-relevant reading titles.

State Library of Queensland | The State Library has a range of resources parents can access and activities they can take part in to engage their children in reading.

Let’s Read | This program is a national early literacy initiative of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and The Royal Children’s Hospital with support from The Smith Family. It promotes reading in families and communities. Parents can access a range of resources to support reading in the home.

Children’s Book Council of Australia | The Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) is a not for profit, volunteer run organisation which aims to engage the community with literature for young Australians. In 1946 the CBCA established the Book of the Year Awards to promote books of high literary and artistic quality. These awards are now the most influential and highly respected in Australia. Browse through the 2018 awards short-list as well as past winners for a quality read for your child.

Five from Five | An initiative of the Centre for Independent Studies, Five from Five aims to improve literacy levels. It has a range of evidence-based resources, tips on reading and activities for parents to do with their children.

Brisbane Grammar School | The Brisbane Grammar School Library has created a comprehensive portal that not only offers recommendations for books and authors for boys at different year levels, but also has a wealth of reviews, events, intuitive reading selection websites and other public resources for students and parents.

Reading Rockets | This is a US-based website, but it has a comprehensive range of resources, ideas and support to help parents “grow readers”.