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Community engagement

Supporting early literacy success

Friday, 19 Jun 2020

A new series of stories for young Kiwis, released by the University of Canterbury's Child Wellbeing Research Institute, provides a perfect resource for the whole family.

Many parents will have enjoyed sharing books and stories with their tamariki during lockdown. This is a wonderful way to support young children learning to read.

The new series of stories for young Kiwis draws on everyday New Zealand life - storylines include dropped ice blocks, bee stings, fun runs and farmyard adventures. The stories can be easily read on the computer, downloaded, printed out and made into little books, or children can listen to the stories being read.

“Having whānau involved in their children’s literacy development is just so important,” says Professor Gail Gillon, Director of the University of Canterbury (UC) Child Wellbeing Research Institute, who developed the book series, as part of their ‘Better Start Literacy Approach’ initiative.

“We’ve included teaching notes at the end of each reader, to help parents support children’s learning of new vocabulary, extend their language through discussing the story theme and help children to sound out the words as they learn to read,” she says.

While the resources are designed for five and six year old children, pre-schoolers will also benefit from parents sharing these stories with them.  New Zealand data from a 2016 international reading literacy study found that pre-school children whose parents frequently engaged with them in early literacy activities before school were much better readers at 10 years old than those whose parents only did this occasionally.

The Better Start Literacy Approach is based on extensive research about which methods are most effective. It reflects extensive feedback from teachers, parents, children and community leaders and was also influenced by the work on supporting learning success for young Māori learners.

Parents can find the series online aon the Better Start Literacy Approach website.