21 May, 2021


Reading to Children

This short article (from has been shared with our community previously. It highlights the enormous importance to children of being read to, and having fun talking about books, as frequently as possible. This is applicable to children of all Junior School ages (3-11) – as well as before they start school – and is at the heart of learning for all students.

Research has shown that the single most important thing that a parent can do to help their child acquire language, prepare their child for school, and instil a love of learning in their child, is to read to them. Reading to a child is one of the easiest ways to prevent future learning problems. According to Mem Fox, author of Reading Magic, reading with your child should start at birth. When a child is born, their brain is not completely developed and will continue to develop over the course of their first years of life. Reading to an infant helps create brain-pathways and lay the groundwork for language development. When a child listens to someone reading, there is increased activity in the language output centre in his or her brain as they are trying to store the spoken words into their memory. This is a crucial step in understanding language because children’s knowledge of the sound system of language enables them to move from oral to written language, understand the individual components of language, and develop an understanding that letters make sounds. Thus, being read to aloud has been shown to build the kinds of language skills that are essential for later success in learning to read.

When someone reads to a child, they are exposing that child to more than just the words on the page; they are demonstrating proper speech patterns, the basics of how a book is read (i.e., from left to right, top to bottom, etc.), and the excitement that reading can bring. Research has shown that up to one-third of children entering kindergarten are underprepared to learn. Furthermore, studies indicate that a child who is a poor reader in 1st grade, will most likely remain a poor reader by the end of 4th grade. While learning to read occurs throughout the school years, preparing children to read before they start school is better than helping them catch up later. Pre-reading skills, such as reading from left to right, turning pages as you read, and understanding that letters make the words that make up stories, are critical for emergent readers to learn prior to their first day of school.

In addition to planting the language seed and preparing a child for school, reading aloud to a child may do something even more important, instil a life-long love of learning and create a bond between the child and the individual who is reading to them. When a child is being read to, there are no other distractions that are taking their caregiver’s attention away. In today’s world where everyone is reachable at all times, it is rare for a child to have a length of time where they are the priority and nothing else matters. Reading to a child is a great way to connect with that child and build a bond around learning. One way to do that is to select books that are enjoyable to both the reader and the listener. Try reading books that you remember from your childhood, as these books can conjure positive memories that you can then pass on to the child you are reading to. If you are excited about reading to your child, your child, will be excited to listen, and the more you do it, the easier and more fun it will become. Soon it will be part of your daily routine and it will be the easiest and most fun way to prepare your child for their future.

With all of the information available pointing to the general importance of reading to children, what are the specific recommendations? As long as the reader and listener are interested in what is being read, it does not matter what the book is. “Even picture books and language in simple children’s books enhance children’s learning and vocabulary because of the conversations between parent and child which take place around books and stories”. This being said, some of the best books to read to children are rhyming books because they help emphasize recurring patterns of sounds that are particularly helpful to the child when they begin to sound out words and letters. It also does not matter what language the child is read to in. Reading to a child in the language that the parent or caregiver feels most comfortable reading in shows similar benefits as reading in the child’s native language. Lastly, just as in exercise, there is a cumulative effect to reading aloud. The greatest and longest lasting benefits have been shown in children who are read to three or more times a week.

The development of reading enjoyment and skills is a high priority for every Junior School student, right from the beginning stages of learning to read and on to reading to learn in all subjects and fields of interest. More information on learning to read at Scotch Oakburn in Early Learning, Prep and Year 1 is being shared with parents in meetings led by Teachers this Term. Details of meetings at each year level are being communicated to families currently. Parents are also welcome to talk to class teachers or to staff in conneXions about books and reading at any time. All Junior School students have access to a large collection of books (printed, ebooks, audiobooks) through conneXions. The ebook collection is accessible for borrowing 24/7.

Lachie Wright
Head of Junior School


Community Education Event

Parents are invited to a session on “Literacy Development in the Early Years: The importance of your child’s oral language as a foundation for literacy learning’ in conneXions at the Elphin Campus on Tuesday 1 June at 7:00pm. This will be led by Speech and Language pathologist Sue Brown, and is especially relevant for parents of children in Early Learning and Prep.

The session will aim to give parents information on ways to maximise their child’s ability to communicate effectively and with confidence. The relationship between speech, oral language and success in literacy acquisition will be explored.

As well as describing the normal stages of development in each of these areas, the session will explore ways to develop specific skills using games, picture books and enjoyable, interactive activities.

RSVP now



House Cross Country

Spectators are most welcome at the Junior School House Cross Country afternoon (from 1.00pm) at Scotch Oakburn Park on Thursday 27 May.  All students from Years 2-5 will represent their House during the afternoon. Students have been preparing for this in HPE classes this Term and in early morning running sessions for those able to be on-campus at 7.45am on set days, and this week’s House meetings added to the generating of a sense of belonging and team spirit within each House.

Lachie Wright
Head of Junior School

National Simultaneous Storytime

On Wednesday, Junior School students celebrated a space version of National Simultaneous Storytime for 2021. This event, now in its 21st year, was live in conneXions with Year 2 students stepping up as leaders of this event for their Early Learning Buddies. Our focus book was Give me Some Space, written and illustrated by Philip Bunting.  Understanding the etymology of the words National and Simultaneous was our first learning task, as well as exploring the complex vocabulary in this text. After a gathering in conneXions, pace exploration then continued in the Year 2 classrooms with their buddies,  involving solar system mobile construction, rocket building construction (complete with alien figurines), drawing rockets, completing child made space puzzles, adding planets to space backgrounds, and representing our thinking about space on a prepared puppet starring a special buddy.

National Simultaneous Storytime is held annually by the Australian Library and Information Association. Every year a picture book, written and illustrated by an Australian author and illustrator, is read simultaneously in libraries, schools, pre-schools, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops, and many other places around the country. This year was extra special as the recording was provided by an astronaut on the International Space Station, reading the book – then floating off the screen!  There are lots of fun resources to share with your children at home on the connexions dash page here The Dash – NSS 2021.

Kyle Brewster

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