Published on Stuff.co.nz / Manukau Courier
I’m not an expert on children (or anything for that matter). And I’m not a parent. But I do know that one of the most valuable lessons my mother ever taught me was, it’s pretty damn cool to read.
This year I had the privilege of being a Duffy Kids Role Model. For those of you that haven’t heard of the incredible work that the Duffy Books in Homes Association does, it’s a charitable foundation which provides free books to over 100,000 New Zealand children living in low socio-economic areas, three times a year. Free books! How cool is that?! As a role model, I visited primary schools in South Auckland, presented their Duffy books to them and talked about the importance of reading.
It’s no secret that schools in low socio-economic areas pass at rates well below schools on the other end of the economic spectrum. Organisations such as Duffy Books in Homes serve an extremely valuable purpose in our communities because it allows children to have the opportunity to gain access to resources, such as books.
Although the distribution of books may not seem as valuable as donating food, clothing and shelter, the long-term effects of these donations are crucial. Encouraging our children to read will foster a generation that will have the confidence to become well-educated, skilled and informed. These are imperative attributes which will help bridge the increasingly widening socio-economic gap in New Zealand.
When my family moved to New Zealand from Samoa, I could not read, write or speak English. As my family and I were settling in to a foreign country and living in a low socio-economic area, purchasing and owning books were never a priority. With the help of Duffy Books in Homes, I was able to receive my very own books and began my love affair with reading (don’t ask me about maths, though). I will always be grateful to the Duffy Books in Homes Association, and as a role model, several years later, it’s such an honour to return the favour.
If you would like to become a sponsor for Duffy Books in Homes or you would like to find out more information, please see their website: www.booksinhomes.org.nz.
p.s I know that I have a lot of parents following TSW and one of the questions that one of the students asked during a school visit was, ‘What kind of advice do you have for parents who want to encourage us to read?’ I have a few tips that I learned when I was growing up.
1. Let your child choose the book. Unless it’s Mills and Boon or 50 shades, I think you’ll be ok. They’ll choose something they’re interested in and will be able to actively engage. If they cannot find books they enjoy in their school library, you can always try the public libraries. If there are books that your child is interested in reading, and the libraries do not have them, make sure you raise this with a librarian – I’m sure they will be happy to help!
2. If your child is glued to the ipad, don’t be afraid to adapt to their way of learning. There are some great resources online for electronic books and audio books.
3. Always give positive feedback. Even if your child is really struggling, keep encouraging them and don’t shatter their confidence. Once they’re able to tackle difficult words, they’ll feel more confident and will have a more positive attitude towards reading.
If you have any additional tips, please share them!