Friday, February 19, 2010


This past week each household in New Zealand received a copy of the National Government's "National Standards ~ Lifting Educational Standards" information sheet. It tells us, "Your child will be regularly tested by their school to reliably measure how they are doing in reading, writing and maths."

Therefore this week's quote is on the subject of READING.

"Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body." Joseph Addison, and English essayist, poet, dramatist and statesman. 1672 - 1719.

No one disputes the fact that children need physical exercise to develop strong, healthy bodies. Although Joseph Addison's quote above was not specifically written in reference to children, he verbalised that reading is the food that builds strong, healthy minds.
Certain physical exercises, sports and games, develop particular muscle groups. Likewise certain types of books develop particular areas in our children's minds and consequently in their lives. If a child's reading diet is totally comics, or science fiction, or gossip-filled teen magazines, or even articles on poverty-releasing justice policies in the majority world, the child will be lop-sided both in their view of the world and in their character development.
Children need to read widely ~ fiction and non-fiction; mystery, imaginative literature and true life literature; all areas of science; travel, culture and people of different philosophies; history of all eras; biographies, famous people; and of course humour and books that are sheer, mad fun... A child needs to read in all areas of life to develop well - mentally, emotionally, creatively and ethically. Reading opens 'windows' into life. Reading should be inspirational for a child. If it isn't then maybe they need to read books in new areas.
You may ask where you can find out about books in all these different areas? Well, start by googling "children's book reading lists". Here are a few sites to start you off -
Consists of 8 reading lists arranged in age groups from preschool - 18 years (sorry about
the side ads for "flat stomachs")
Consists of age group reading lists, boys/girls book lists, classical books in age groups, topic lists
eg animals, educational, growing up, history, and book awarded book lists. All very 'Oprah'.
Sites here in New Zealand -
*,...,Holiday Reading
Whitcoulls kids top 50 books.
I suggest you try your local library first for the books you want.
Another way to encourage a wide range of reading is to take opportunities that are there.
* International sporting events, eg the Winter Olympics ~ borrow books on the Winter Olympics from the library and read them together.
* A current issue in the news ~ read the newspaper articles together.
* Sea creatures found on holiday ~ google them or find library books with photos and information about your creatures.
* Listen to the questions your child asks ~ follow them up by googling or finding answers in
library books. This is the start of research.
You are now demonstrating a growing interest in life through reading. It isn't hard, it doesn't take a lot of time, in fact it is increasingly very enjoyable and pays huge 'dividends' in the life of your child. One writer calls it "elevating or cultivating a child's taste in reading".
Through the media we have had famous sports people model a good attitude to reading books for children to follow. Interest and enthusiasm for reading needs to be modelled so children will be attracted to read for themselves. But as I wrote in an earlier blog - the biggest influence into children's lives is from home - from parents. As parents we need to model reading for our children's sake. We too need to read widely. So, what are you reading at the moment?

"A man (child) practices the art of adventure when he breaks the chain of routine and renews his life through reading new books, travelling to new places, making new friends, taking up new hobbies and adopting new viewpoints." Wilfred Peterson.

So, what are you going to read THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ?

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