Wednesday, 29 January 2014

10 Awesome Reasons Why Kids Should Read.

Summer holidays are at their end. Australian kids all around the nation are embarking on another academic school year. With that comes the controversial issue of homework.
Currrent research theory suggests that homework is not necessary. I’m not here to debate the pro’s and con’s of homework, (some may say that it depends entirely upon the age of the children and the stage of schooling they are at.) Suffice to say, if your kids are in Primary school, no matter what your school’s current homework policy happens to be, I believe all children should at least read.
Below are my 10 awesome reasons why I believe all children (no matter what their age) should have the opportunity to read at home every day.
1.Imaginations grow and expand as books take children to magical far away lands with intriguing characters and unusual creatures.
2.Reading inspires creativity to think and invent. It is with stories children are inspired to dream and it is those dreamers who grow up to become the inventers of our world and our future.
3.Children can explore the world around them without leaving the safety of their bedroom. They can learn all about geography, flora and fauna, all things great and small.
4. Vocabulary is increased. The more a child reads, the more new words they discover. Comprehension is learnt in context and gradually as the new vocabulary is read more often it becomes part of every day life and speech.
5. Improved spelling. Repetition is a secret to success and as such, the more often a child reads, the more often they see the same words repeatedly in written form, again in context rather than isolation giving more meaning to each word. This makes it more likely that these words will become embedded in the memory and the child will be able to “see” the word when they are required to spell it.
6. Reading opens up a whole world of knowledge. Once a child learns to read, they can choose to read anything enabling them to learn about whatever their heart desires. It helps to stimulate the brain so that the child can grow and be educated to become whatever they choose to be when they become an adult.
7. Reading helps to develop empathy for other people  through viewing the world through the eyes of many different colourful characters. Giving children opportunities to understand how someone else may feel in situations that they may or may not be familiar with.
8. Life’s lessons are taught through many children’s books as they so often have a worthwhile moral to the story. This also opens up opportunities for family discussions and debates bringing the family closer together as they unite around a topic.
9. The more a child reads, the better they get at it. Like anything else in life, whether that is piano lessons or kicking a ball, we all know the old adage that “practice makes perfect.
10. Last, but by no means least, reading together, sharing  a book with someone you love, ( a parent, grandparent, sibling or friend) brings people together to make special moments. It allows time for laughter, cuddles and hugs. It builds relationships and creates strong bonds that form ever lasting wonderful memories.
So whatever happens in your house this year during the busy school terms to come, whether there is after school sport practice, music lessons,  or swimming training, (not to mention the usual household chores,) please take the time to read with your children every day. Even if it is only 20 minutes a day, you will not only be instilling a great life long habbit, you will also be giving them a love of learning and reading that
they will both love you and thank you for one day.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

In Celebration of Where we Come From.

With Australia Day almost upon us for another year it is quite timely that I find myself writing this review of a wonderful book I finaly read during this summer break.
The Forgotten Holocaust A Gypsy’s Journey from Auschwitz to Freedom was written by author Caroline P. Cooper. We had the pleasure of meeting at another fellow author’s book launch before attending each others book launches in 2012. I was honoured to be able to attend the book launch for Caroline’s Forgotten Holocaust  as the book was launched by none other than Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor General of Australia. The evening was one I will never forget and will always appreciate the opportunity given to me to meet such a marvelous Ambassador for our country. I learnt a lot that evening about the history of the Roma which until then I confess to knowig very little about. I came away with a far better understanding and appreciation for the persecution throughout all history that these people have gone through.
William Webster,Natalia Webster, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor General of Australia, Dr Irina Webster and myself at the reception after the book launch.
William Webster,Natalia Webster, Her Excellency Ms Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor General of Australia, Dr Irina Webster and myself at the reception after the book launch.
Caroline Cooper with her Excellency Ms Qentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor General of Australia.
Caroline Cooper with her Excellency Ms Qentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor General of Australia.
I admit it has taken me however, until this summer to pick up her book and read it, but I am very glad that I did.
Not only is it a story of fear, tragedy and loss for a race of people so easily forgotten, it is also a story of forgiveness, coming together and acceptance. The story reminds us that all Australians, no matter what their heritage or backgrounds, are a multicultural mix of people who come together in this wonderful land of freedom and tolerance and accept one another for who and what we are. On days like Australia Day and Harmony day we celebrate our differences as well as our similarities and live, work and play together in a co-hesive and generally harmonious society.
The Forgetton Holocaust is cleverly written with two story lines interwoven. The first being the Romani (Gypsy) Gil Webb, who is caught up in WW2 and the atrocities of the Nazi prisnoer of war camp. He becomes an English soldier spying in Holland who is inevitably caught and sent to Auschwitz where he struggles to survive until his eventual release at the end of the war. However peace of mind is not so easy and Gil is tormented by his memories for many years, even after he has settled in his new home in Australia. The second story revolves around his granddaughter many years later living a peaceful life in Australia searching for love, not knowing her family history. Her mother had decided to keep the past secret so that when everyone else in her office celebrates their heritage, Lily celebrates her Australianism. How these two stories come together and the inevitable events that lead to forgiveness and acceptance are truely heart warming.
The book makes the point that every Australian originated from somewhere else. I am fifth generation Australian, my great, great grandfather immigrated from England in 1850, however many of us have come from such a vast array of cultures over the years that we are now a melting pot of the most amazing richness of anscestry.
We can all choose to live in the past, hold grudges, relive nightmares and forever be tormented by pain or we can choose to move on past the memories. Live for the future and celebrate the lives we have now, sharing this fabulous nation. This Australia Day, be proud of who you are, where you came from, but also look forward to the wonderful united mix of people that makes our home, so great.