Chil­dren flock­ing to li­braries for the love of books

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CLARE ARM­STRONG

LI­BRARIES are back on the list of cool places to be, with thou­sands of Aussie chil­dren sign­ing up as mem­bers ev­ery week.

About three- quar­ters of chil­dren aged 6- 12 and al­most half of those un­der five are card- car­ry­ing mem­bers of their lo­cal pub­lic li­brary, ac­cord­ing to new data from the Great Aus­tralian Read­ing Sur­vey.

The News Corp Aus­tralia na­tional sur­vey also found more than twothirds of par­ents with chil­dren across all age groups visit pub­lic li­braries.

Ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of re­gional ac­cess and pub­lic li­braries in Queens­land Louise Denoon said in­no­va­tive and cre­ative pro­grams had helped mem­ber­ship num­bers soar.

“There’s been an enor­mous growth in out­reach pro­grams,” she said.

“Li­brar­i­ans now go to foot­ball games, com­mu­nity cen­tres, med­i­cal clin­ics, parks and even pris­ons tak­ing books out into the com­mu­nity and they get a great re­sponse.”

It’s not all about books how­ever, with many li­braries in­creas­ingly fo­cus­ing on teach­ing com­puter cod­ing and ro­bot­ics.

“Every­one needs to learn how to read, but now they also need to learn cod­ing and those dig­i­tal lit­er­acy skills,” Ms Denoon said.

She said there was no age limit for a li­brary card, with some par­ents sign­ing up their new­born ba­bies.

Mum An­nika Smith said her oneyear- old son Theo al­ready “loves books” and vis­it­ing the li­brary.

“His whole face lights up when a book comes out … and the beauty of a li­brary is they have such a wide se­lec­tion for him to choose from,” she said.

Mur­doch Chil­dren’s Re­search In­sti­tute Pro­fes­sor Sharon Gold­feld said any ex­po­sure to read­ing helped child de­velop lan­guage skills.

“If you’re read­ing to your child, even if you’re just look­ing at the pic­tures and hav­ing a dis­cus­sion with them about the story you’re help­ing their vo­cab­u­lary,” she said, adding that in­no­va­tive li­brary pro­grams that helped re­in­force a love of read­ing were ben­e­fi­cial to chil­dren of all ages. Read­ers can col­lect a free copy of Pos­sum Magic and a col­lec­tor’s case with our Great Aus­tralian Sto­ry­book col­lec­tion, start­ing this Sun­day. De­tails: greataussie sto­ries. com. au a

BIG FAN: One- year- old Theo Smith loves books and is keen to tackle the Great Aus­tralian Sto­ry­book col­lec­tion. Pic­ture: LIAM KIDSTON

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