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Australian Moms Share How They Teach Kids to Read and Love Books Starting at Birth
  • Why are we asking Australian parents about reading? Well, it's a favorite leisure activity among Australians. The Australia Council for the Arts found out 92% of the country's citizens classified themselves as readers; over 80% of parents encourage their children to read; and 9 out of 10 Australian children enjoy being read to by their parents.

    So how do they do it? We interviewed four parents living in Australia and asked them how they found the joy of reading themselves and passed this on to their children.

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    This mom began her child's journey by reading aloud to her

    As a child, Jackie didn’t have access to good children’s books. She was already in grade 6 when she got hooked after a teacher read to them a chapter of Tom Sawyer every Friday. She got into the storytelling so much that she got herself a copy of the book and read past what they were learning in class.

    When she became a mom, Jackie read aloud to her daughter every chance she got. She learned to observe and provide books her daughter loved, which began with one-picture-per-page books. Growing up, as she listened and watched natural historian David Attenborough, she enjoyed fiction and non-fiction books. That was when Jackie realized children want to read not just stories with a plot, but they also liked facts and real-life pictures.

    Jackie raised her daughter, who is now in her 20s, in Queensland. She has become a storyteller and author of children’s non-fiction picture books.

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    Devotionals got this mom's kids into the daily reading habit

    Cel didn’t grow up with a lot of book choices, but in her teens, she bought books for her much younger brother with money she saved from her allowance. Then she read aloud to him, something she saw on TV and a tradition she continued with her two kids. Cel saw the importance of encouraging the kids to choose what they would like to read, allow them to develop preferences and own the habit. 

    There is no one recipe for how to read every day. Cel and her daughters have a daily reading routine of devotionals. Every day, she reads a page of scripture and reflection with her children. It had been so quick and easy to do that they finished a 365-day devotional for kids.

    Now that her kids are older, Cel takes book recommendations from them on what to read next! 

    Cel Tria, the author of Francesca (Philip & Ana Publishing), is also an IT professional who resides in Australia with her family.

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    This moms says don't be afraid to let your kids read above-their-age books

    Rebecca remembers seeing her parents reading. Her mom had books she treated as “prized possessions.” Her dad read all the time. Reading “has always been there” so, for Rebecca, there is no reason not to read!  

    Now a mom of two, she and her husband have a home where books are found everywhere. She brings her kids to the library for story time and to borrow books. They’ve learned to choose what they want as soon as they were big enough to walk to the shelves and grab a book. Even now that her son is 12, he still enjoys listening to Rebecca read books to his 6-year-old sister.

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    The kids thrive in having a random selection of books — picture books, non-fiction, poetry, “themed” books (son likes farm stories, daughter loves fairies). Rebecca finds that reading above the kids’ age makes the experience more interesting for the whole family.

    Rebecca is an event photographer and writes children’s picture books. She’s a fan of stories that allow her to put on a character voice.

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    Mom's mission: read to her child 1000 books before he goes to his first school

    Lisha, who grew up in the Philippines, cherished the books her uncle sent from overseas. She read them over and over again until they were dog-eared. Now living in Australia and a new mother, Lisha wanted her son Max to love books as much as she does. Thinking how to connect and interact meaningfully with her baby while he’s awake, her efforts went into reading to him.

    Taking the cue from her maternal child care nurse when her son was 6 weeks old, Lisha embarked on the "#1000BooksBeforeSchool" journey, a movement that encourages parents to read to their children, so they grow to love books. Whenever her son was awake and calm, Lisha would find a cozy spot in the room and read aloud to him. 

    To date, Max has seen and heard over 1,000 books read to him by his parents, grandparents, and child carers. At 15 months, he has started to pick up books he wants to read from the shelf and tells his mom, “More, more.” Being enrolled in what Lisha and her partner are doing for their son, people around them gift them with books. For Lisha, reading to Max could be her best mum choice!  —  Lisha is a planning and policy officer. She writes poetry and, with her husband, has planned book projects for Max.


    Witness Lisha's 1000 Books Before School journey on her Instagram @lisha_pen_murphy.

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