Steve Martin has been involved with CBCA Tasmania in recent years and has been active in his promotion of reading and literacy in the north-west of Tasmania. Steve has kindly shared some snapshots of influencing factors and drivers to lead the branch as we celebrate and promote children’s literature and reading.
Reading well is essential to tackling the effects of child poverty and is the keystone of a good start in life for all children. An important role for parents in the development and educational performance of their children is reading aloud to their children from birth.
It is undeniable that a child’s reading skill is important to their success in school, work, and life in general. And it is very possible to help ensure the child’s success by reading aloud to them starting at birth. Some benefits of reading aloud to children include, supported cognitive development; improved language skills; preparation for academic success; developing a special bond between parent and child; increased concentration and discipline; improved imagination and creativity; and cultivating a lifelong love of reading.
Parents have an incredible ability to have a positive impact on children’s ability to read. This need not be an onerous activity – just reading aloud ten minutes a day can make a huge difference. Such investment would increase the child’s reading and other cognitive skills, as well as positively affect the likelihood of acquiring higher education, advanced training, along with the economic returns in terms of wages and quality of jobs. Numerous studies have shown that students who are exposed to reading before preschool are more likely to do well when they reach their period of formal education, transforming children’s lives by helping them overcome poverty, leading them to better health and increased income opportunities.
Imagine not having the ability to read a job description, apply for a job, or know the content of a contract you sign. Those are typically the basic steps of finding a job or starting a business. A lack of literacy has also been commonly found to make it harder for people looking to enter the workforce for the first time, restricting their job choices/opportunities and income; limiting their ability to provide and care for themselves (and their families); and continue the cycle of poverty.
Poverty and food insecurity are ever present in our communities, in fact, 13.6% of Australians live below the poverty line and 15% have experienced food insecurity in the past 12 months. The effects of growing up in poverty increases the likelihood of food insecurity which in turn, could impair a child's ability to concentrate and perform well in school; is linked to behavioural and emotional problems from preschool through adolescence; and is tied to conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease later in life.
The current issues of poverty and food insecurity need to be addressed, but at the same time so does breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty and food insecurity. Literacy development is a vital part of a child’s overall development, an investment in their future, helping develop a strong foundation to enable them to reach their full potential and in turn help build and strengthen their communities, ending the vicious cycle.
Through the role of Devonport Mayor, the importance of children’s literacy as an investment in the future of children, families and communities was realised and led to joining the Tasmanian Branch of the CBCA so that more could be learnt and positive actions promoting the real benefits of children’s literacy could be implemented. Four years on, now President, it is also important that the value and the effect of what our authors and illustrators produce should not be lost or underestimated - family, state, or nationwide.
President, Toast for Kids Charity Inc.
President, Tasmanian Branch – Children’s Book Council of Australia