I was lucky enough to hear Jackie French talk last night at the State Library.

She is a passionate speaker and was fascinating to listen to, especially what she had to say about finding THE book that will turn a child into a reader. I can’t remember a time before I loved to read but given that I used to teach I have seen kids suddenly find that book, that topic, that rings true with them and that they simply want to know more about. I wish I could share everything she said here but it was excellent to hear our new Australian Children’s Laureate speak about something that is so close to her heart – reading.

She spent some time talking about her own struggles with reading (she’s dyslexic) and the other people she has known who have struggled to find THE book and how wide the range of books that fit that title can be.

I wanted to share some of the very interesting things she talked about with everyone because when we want children to love to read we have to give them lots of options to learn how to love it. Below are some of the things she talked about:

  • Adults don’t read because it is GOOD FOR THEM but because we enjoy it, we want to learn something. Children need to know that while reading is incredibly important and it is good for their brains it is also fun. After all, books aren’t broccoli (which I personally really like but we make kids eat it because vegetables are good for them).
  • Don’t force children to finish books (you don’t always finish a book and neither should they).
  • Do encourage them to read as much and as widely (bee keeping featured heavily in her talk, as did submarines, chicken rearing, and reptiles) not all children are going to like funny or short or supernatural, or anything else and trying all the different things is more likely to get your results.
Jackie French also had some suggestions for fostering a love of books in children. I really liked most of them and I’m sure this list isn’t complete but they are all great suggestions. This is taking into account that children can find the process of having to read to you everynight stressful because it feels like a test. You are correcting their pronunciation, trying to