Who would have ever imagined that 2020 would be a year that differentiates so dramatically from previous years, and from any other year that I have ever experienced before during my entire lifetime?
For those of us who celebrated New Year’s Eve on 31st January 2019, as I did with my family, just as we have done so many times before, year after year; a relative of mine made a statement after the clock struck midnight, as we watched the magnificent and brilliant fireworks display from the balcony of a tall Melbourne skyscraper, 17 floors high. We were mesmerised by the explosion of colours that lit up the night sky; the fireworks resembling Christmas balls hanging from the branches of a decorative Christmas tree. In the background, we could hear the almost deafening boom, crackling and whistling sounds echoing through the sky, generated by the fireworks. And the statement made was that 2020 would be a much better year than last year. How wrong could my relative have been?
The coronavirus pandemic is something that I never imagined I would ever have to experience during my lifetime, as I’m sure that most people in this world would not have foreseen this coming either; perhaps scientists were not so surprised but for people like me, this whole pandemic was certainly a shock to my system, and every day as soon as I wake up, my thoughts are totally consumed by this frightening, invisible and unknown enemy, a virus, that is at war with the entire world and that has basically turned all of our lives upside down.
My thoughts and prayers, and extreme gratitude, lie with the heroic medical staff who have bravely put themselves on the frontline of this war, and are placing their own lives at risk in order to help others survive and be able to recover from this terrible and most unexpected virus which has tragically, already claimed the lives of so many people worldwide.
And in an attempt to prevent further loss of life, including those of medical staff, we have all been asked to practice social distancing and to self-isolate. In time, we will get through this most difficult situation that the entire world has found itself in, and we must try our utmost to always be supportive, encouraging and to show kindness and compassion towards others. After all, we are all in the same boat. We are all in this together.
And so, whilst stuck at home, many of us are trying our best to find interesting and exciting activities to be engaged in to help pass the time until this dire pandemic situation improves.
And this is where my plea to parents begins.
Perhaps this could be seen as an opportunity to introduce children, whether they are very young, of primary school age or even adolescents, to the wonderful and magical world of books, and for parents to be instrumental in encouraging a love of reading and of books in children worldwide.
Does it really matter if our children don’t read much or value books the way I used to as a child?
And the answer to this question is really quite simple and straightforward – YES, IT DOES MATTER! And I simply cannot emphasize this enough!
One of my favourite quotes that I stumbled across recently is by Professor Frank Oberklaid, a paediatrician and the driving force behind the ‘Let’s Read’ campaign at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute: “In the same way we immunise children against the risk of infection, the best way to immunise your child against the risk of reading failure is to read to them from a very early age.”
The above quote was taken from an article which appears on the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute website. According to Professor Oberklaid, “The foundations of literacy are laid down well before kids get to school. Language develops naturally. Reading doesn’t. You have to be taught.” https://www.mcri.edu.au/brilliantminds/Professor-Frank-Oberklaid
An article published on 24 July 2014 in Child Development journal involving a study which was conducted titled, “Does Learning to Read Improve Intelligence? A Longitudinal Multivariate Analysis in Identical Twins From Age 7 to 16” used 1,890 twin pairs as participants. The focus for this study was on the links between reading ability and intelligence and whether learning to read improved general intelligence. https://srcd.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/cdev.12272
The study found that “Twins with better earlier reading ability compared to their identical cotwin tended not only to have better reading at subsequent measurements but also higher scores on general intelligence tests.”
Therefore, there is a link between early reading ability and higher intelligence.
So why not encourage children in our society today to engage in reading more books?
It doesn’t have to be for extended periods of time. Perhaps parents could consider setting aside an hour per day reading books as a family which can be beneficial in many ways. It’s a great way of spending quality time with family members, enjoying a really fun and engaging activity together with the added bonus of learning new things since we learn more about the world around us through reading books.
As a Children’s Author, I am very passionate about the importance of reading books. I have written a blog about this topic which can be viewed at the website of Kids’ Book Review. Please find the link below:
By taking pleasure in reading, children will be given the opportunity to gain the enormous benefits associated with reading books and, as a consequence, they will be inspired to escape into a world of fantasy, embark on an exciting journey in their imagination, improve their grammar usage and overall literacy skills, expand their vocabulary, spark their creativity and visit countless numbers of magical places – all of these events can transpire by simply opening and turning the pages of a book.