The benefits of the Reading Club

07 January 2017

Has your child taken part in a reading club this summer?

You know… that piece of paper that comes home in their school bag offering prize packs for logging books they have read?

Reading clubs have been occurring in public libraries across the globe for decades; The Sunshine Coast Library has been operating reading clubs for over 20 years and is now a part of an Australian-wide club organised by the State Library of Queensland.

The concept is simple: read five things (books, magazines, novels) and record them in a reading log. Submit the reading log and go into the draw to win a prize pack. The more you read, the more reading logs you submit, the more entries you get! It’s a simple way to encourage reading and promote it as a fun activity outside the confines of the classroom. But the idea behind the reading club is hugely important, and the benefits are so much more than simply increasing the quantity of pages read by a child.

Combatting summer reading loss

Research shows that children who don’t read over the long summer break experience considerable reading losses, and these losses add up over time to a create a rather significant learning gap. In fact, summer loss has been equated to up to a one-month gap (Cooper, 1996), and this learning loss was found to be even greater for lower-income families. In basic terms, this means that when children go back to school they spend a significant portion of the first term trying to catch up again, and this time is increasingly hard to regain.

In our information-driven 21st century world, the ability to read and write has never been more important. By the time our children enter their adult lives, they will need to be equipped with advanced levels of literacy if they are to perform jobs and process the huge amount of information they will be met with everyday.

The importance of reading for pleasure

School holidays are often the only chance that kids have to read for fun – being able to choose their own books and explore imaginary worlds on their own terms. This is vital not only for literacy development but also for their own self-development and personal growth. Reading for pleasure also has a myriad of other benefits:

  • Positive reading attitudes
  • Self confidence as a reader
  • Greater understanding of cultures
  • Empathy and insight into human nature
  • Increased decision-making skills
  • Increased vocabulary
  • Improved writing ability
  • Improved text comprehension and grammar
  • Increased pleasure in reading later in life

The enjoyment of reading and being able to read confidently also has a big impact of a child’s academic success, and is an indicator of success in other areas of life. A 2006 study found that children who loved to read at age 14:

  • Had higher social/attitudinal competencies
  • Scored higher in maths, reading and problem solving
  • Had higher engagement at school
  • Displayed more positive friendships and relationships
  • Showed less risky behaviour
  • Showed higher motivation towards school

It’s never too early to start!

You don’t need to wait until a child starts school to foster a love for reading! The first five years of a child’s life are critical for literacy development and success later in life – up to 90 per cent of children with language problems at age five have poor literacy outcomes 10 years later. To promote early literacy development, Queensland State Government has funded the First 5 Forever program – a universal literacy program aimed at supporting stronger language and literacy environments for young children from 0–5 years and their families. Available at libraries across the region, the program provides a huge range of free resources, including Rhymetime and Storytime sessions, and advice on how to bring early literacy into everyday life. As well as events at the libraries, the program is taking literacy to the community with various story-time sessions in parks and hubs such as Sunshine plaza.

And it’s never too late either!

Whether your child is 2 or 15, a reading club is a great way to support your child’s literacy. Head to your local library to grab a form and choose some books… any books… and get reading!

Written by

Kids on the Coast/Kids in the City

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