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Children and Literacy

Updated on June 19, 2013
BlossomSB profile image

Bronwen was a teacher for over forty years. Degrees include School Librarianship, Psycholinguistics and Theology, and Applied Linguistics.

Learning About Chained Books in Switzerland
Learning About Chained Books in Switzerland | Source

Literacy and Books

Although children may begin to learn to read by asking what the writing says on the Corn Flakes packet, the best way is through books. Lots of fun and entertainment can be obtained through ebooks and various electronic devices, but there is nothing like a book that can be read over and over again.

Children can learn to enjoy and value books from an early age and if they are encouraged to do this, they most likely will continue to do so right through their lives. Reading is a vital, exciting way to find out about new things and we know that, as adults, it's something that we can really appreciate. Books are something permanent that will keep; they make great gifts for almost anyone of any age. They can be kept, treasured and passed on to the next generation.

Beginning Readers

Most adults have learned to read so long ago that it is difficult to recall just when they first began. It has become part of them and of their culture. However, that is not true for everyone.

Young Children:

  • Not all children are ready to begin learning to read at the same age. Some children are curious and ask questions and are eager to start. With their parents' help, they can begin to learn quite early and may be fluent readers by the time they start school. The influence of their parents is important in this situation and their interest and response without putting pressure on the child can encourage their enthusiasm and the child will learn quickly and happily. It is certainly worth the effort.
  • Other children are hardly ready by the time they start to attend school. Having lead a Preparatory (or Prep) teaching team some years ago, I became very conscious of the enormous responsibility of teaching the first year at school. To me, it is the most important year of all in a child's schooling. Much of the teaching may be directed in a 'play way,' but the underlying goals are very serious. If a child feels that he is achieving, he will probably enjoy school and be enthusiastic to learn more; it will be fun for him - and for those around him. However, if he feels he is a failure at this age, it will take a long time for him to regain confidence and begin to succeed. Reading is one of the ares of literacy that is a major factor in his success.

Older Learners:

  • Not everyone has been fortunate enough to have learned to read during early childhood. Delayed development, illness, physical disability or even parental disinterest may have contributed to this. Being unable to read does not mean that the person will never become literate, but it may be more difficult and require patience and perseverance.
  • Even for adults it's never to late to begin and there are centres in many communities where help is available. If you know someone who has difficulty reading, find out where they can go, and then go with them. Moral support and knowing that someone cares can be a huge assistance in helping someone gain confidence to take that big step and begin on a journey that can take them into the wonderful world of books.

Reading One of my Own Books to Children
Reading One of my Own Books to Children | Source

Literacy Leads to Life-long Pleasure

Once a child - or an adult learner - is confident with their reading, it can be a delight to encourage them to keep on reading. Reading literacy really can give life-long pleasure. It opens doors to learning about the world around us, how to do and make things or just give fun and appeal to our sense of imagination. Reading can be done by oneself or shared in a family or in a community

1. Reading Within a Family:

  • Bedtime stories are a great favourite and can include the whole family. It can reinforce that important 'togetherness' of the family. If there are stories to share, sit next to each other. Parents, put your arm around your child as you read to her or as she reads to you; make it a special time.
  • With older children, reading can be a great winter activity when the family gathers around the fire. Perhaps some are enjoying handcrafts and some knitting. Each person can take a turn to read to the others - as used to happen before the advent of TV and computer games. It can be fun and good for sharing with the whole family.
  • A play-reading can be great fun, too, with each member of the family taking parts; if there are not enough in the family for the characters needed, each person can take more than one part and try to make their characters different from each other, changing the pitch and speed of speaking for the different part.

2. Reading Within a Community:

  • Many public libraries, towns and cities, even just the families living in a particular street have flourishing Book Clubs. It may be for adults or for whole families. You may have similar activities as those suggested for the family, or each family may read the same book and then the group come together once a month to discuss the book.
  • Many churches have Home Groups and Bible Study Groups, too, where passages from the Bible are read and discussed. Apart from what can be learned in these groups, it's a great way of getting to know neighbours and meeting people.

Different Kinds of Literacy

There are other kinds of literacy which are important in the lives of children. In some countries music literacy is taught at the same age as reading; right at the beginning of their education. Literacy is very good for development of the brain, but also it is the beginning of life-long learning in any number of spheres.

Computer games and ebooks have their place and can entertain children quite well, but learning within the family should not stop there. Parents, give your children good books, share with them and teach the children to value books, care for them and learn from them. Literacy of any kind is not just the responsibility of the school; it begins at home.

Play Reading for all the Family is Fun
Play Reading for all the Family is Fun | Source


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    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      pstraubie48: That is such a lovely comment. The relationship between the child and parents, especially being physically close to each other, is one of the important things that contributes to making books and reading a pleasurable experience for our little ones. May God bless you.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      You are right....there is nothing like holding a book in your hands and reading it over and over. I remember to this day sitting on my Momma's lap when I was four years she read to me wonderful stories that I would eagerly listen to again and again.

      I have been an avid reader since then.

      Reading with and to young children builds that love for the printed word that will become a part of who they are.

      Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

      Sending you many Angels this morning. :) ps

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Riya Rahman: Thanks.

    • Riya Rahman profile image

      Riya Rahman 4 years ago from Thanapara, Gaibandha, Bangladesh


    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Jools99: It's so lovely to have memories of our first books and the pleasure they gave us. It can be disappointing when our children do not show the same enthusiasm, but perhaps, with your modelling, she will eventually learn the delights of a good book. I do hope so. There are so many distractions for children these days.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      Wonderful hub and your enthusiasm for reading for children really comes across. I can still remember the first book that really grabbed my attention as a child, it was by Eve Garnett and I have thought of reading it recently to see what it was that grabbed me. I have been a keen reader ever since. My daughter, though, is not a reader, in spite of us reading stories to her every night before bed. Maybe she'll get into it in her 20s :o)

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      annart: Thank you so much for your lovely comments. As you write, a lot of the success is being able to help the students to gain confidence as well as learning strategies and then they can go on from strength to strength. Thank you for the 'follow,' too.

    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 4 years ago from SW England

      How I agree with all this! A child's introduction to reading early on is so important. I've seen dyslexics go from not wanting to read one word, to devouring books in their free time. Much of it is down to confidence, encouragement and someone giving them the techniques of coping with words. Your hub sets out all the reasons and the practical suggestions for learning and enjoying reading. This is a must-read for any parent and any teacher of the young. Up etc and shared.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      pstraubie48: That's lovely. It's a delight to watch grandchildren learn to love books. God bless you.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      You are so right, Blossom. There is nothing like holding that book and enjoying it over and over. My grandson has been a lover of books since he was old enough to sit on his Momma's lap and listen to her read. It is not unusual to go into his room and find him sitting on the floor or in his little chair 'reading a book.

      Thanks for sharing this with us.

      Sending you angels this evening. :) ps

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      teaches12345: Thank you for your comments - on both counts. As a teacher you know how important this is.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      You look so wonderful reading to those children. What a role model! Your advice is excellent.

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Genna East: What great, wise parents you had! Being able to read and enjoy it certainly does open doors. Limited TV also helps children to become more creative - I'm all for it!

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      I agree with Shining Irish Eyes - an outstanding and important hub. My folks wouldn’t allow me to watch much television at all until I knew how to read and write…and what a wonderful gift that was! It’s the love of reading that helps opens doors and invites us to be life-long learners and discoverers. Wonderful hub!

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 4 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      shiningirisheyes: Thank you - on all points! I'm retired now, but still feel strongly about the importance of children learning to read and finding it fun.

      Eiddwen: Thank you, my good friend, Eddy. Have a great day.

      tirelesstraveller: I would be honoured.

      cat on a soapbox: I do so agree. Thank you for your interesting comments.

      Marcia Ours: Yes, understanding what is being read is essential. Otherwise the exercise is meaningless.

      aviannovice: Phonics are very useful, but we all learn in different ways, so it's important to use a variety of methods when teaching reading.

      always exploring: It's never too late to learn, but often when people are older they are embarrassed and hide the fact that they can't read.

      Lipnancy: They certainly do - usually for longer than their parents want to do it! Once they can read a little, it's good to let them have a turn to read to you, too. Parents may have to be patient and give time for their children to work out the words, but it really helps their confidence.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      Children always love to be read to. It relaxes them and teaches them many lessons.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Very interesting. I applaud your dedication to educating children and adults. I know of a man who wanted to learn to read at fifty years of age. Thank you...

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I was in the first year that phonics was introduced in my first grade class. I have not stopped reading(and writing!)

    • profile image

      Marcia Ours 4 years ago

      I love to read! Reading is essential for everyone and understanding what we read, as well. Good pictures, also.

    • profile image

      cat on a soapbox, 4 years ago

      I couldn't agree with you more! Although printed books and periodicals may be upstaged by electronic forms, a love of reading will enhance a love for learning new things throughout a lifetime. I grew up with weekly trips to the library and parents who loved books, magazines, and music rather than TV. My daughter doesn't quite share my enthusiasm for books in spite of all the children's stories we shared w/ her, but she does write well and has an extensive vocabulary which I attribute to good reading skills. I have a Kindle but still prefer the feel, smell, and craft of books, especially those that are beautiful works of art! Thank you for sharing your love of reading and gift of teaching with us and your community! Voted UP and more.

      All of the best,


    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 4 years ago from California

      Cheers! Many a teacher has gone from the higher grades to Kinder when they realized how vital teaching a love for reading was. Would you mind if I linked this to my hub reviewing

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Very interesting Blossom and your hard work has certainly paid off.

      Have a wonderful day.


    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Such an outstanding and important hub. Happy to know you share my world. Handsome family as well.

      Voting up and sharing