Word up the young

Book your chil­dren a bright fu­ture

Herald Sun - - NEWS - PATRICK TADROS [email protected]

PAR­ENTS want their chil­dren to spend more time with their noses in a book rather than glued to a screen.

A sur­vey of 1000 par­ents and grand­par­ents, com­mis­sioned by News Corp Aus­tralia, found 86 per cent of re­spon­dents wanted their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren to spend more time read­ing books. And more than 88 per cent read to their chil­dren and grand­chil­dren at least once a week.

But the lure of elec­tronic de­vices was cited as one of the big­gest bar­ri­ers to read­ing.

A vast ma­jor­ity of re­spon­dents said it was eas­ier to en­gage chil­dren’s at­ten­tion with a screen than with a book.

Pro­fes­sor Frank Oberk­laid, direc­tor of the Cen­tre for Com­mu­nity Child Health at the Royal Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal, said fos­ter­ing a pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship with books started from birth.

“Ba­bies aren’t go­ing to un­der­stand books, but read­ing to them reg­u­larly gets them into the rhythm of read­ing, and de­vel­ops an un­der­stand­ing that read­ing books is some­thing fun to do,” he said.

To high­light the im­por­tance of lit­er­acy, this month the Her­ald Sun and Aus­tralia Post are en­cour­ag­ing Aus­tralians to Raise a Reader.

As part of the cam­paign, chil­dren across Aus­tralia will be asked to write a let­ter to an Aus­tralian leg­end of their choice. Prizes from Aus­tralia Post and News Corp Aus­tralia are on of­fer for the best let­ters.

Brothers, Adrian, 8, and Eli, 7, will both be do­ing their part.

Adrian, who loves col­lect­ing and build­ing with Lego, will be writ­ing to Am­ber Nai­smith, as­so­ciate pro­ducer of the Lego film fran­chise, to ask how the movie was made and how long it took to cre­ate.

Eli will write to soc­cer star Tim Cahill to ask how old he was when he be­gan play­ing, how of­ten he prac­tised, and which tro­phy he prized most.

Their dad, Joseph Calarco, said: “I think it’s far bet­ter for their ed­u­ca­tion and de­vel­op­ment to be read­ing and writ­ing rather than us­ing their de­vices.

“We read to­gether ev­ery night — it’s pos­i­tive fam­ily time for us.

“We’ve seen how it has given them great imag­i­na­tions. It opens up new worlds.”

An­other sur­vey last year, by the Par­ent­ing Re­search Cen­tre, found par­ents of some chil­dren un­der the age of two said the chil­dren were spend­ing too long on screens, of­ten un­su­per­vised. At that age, they are not sup­posed to be us­ing elec­tronic de­vices at all.

The sur­vey also found that 25 per cent of chil­dren aged three to five, and 44 per cent aged six to 12, spent too much time on screens.

A fur­ther study by Out­door Play and Learn­ing in Aus­tralia found that Aus­tralian chil­dren were glued to the TV, smart­phones, and video games for up to 20 hours a week. SEE FRI­DAY’S HER­ALD SUN FOR DE­TAILS ON HOW TO EN­TER THE RAISE A READER LET­TER-WRIT­ING COM­PE­TI­TION

Pic­ture: JUSTIN LLOYD

Brothers Adrian and Eli set about writ­ing their Raise a Reader let­ters.

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