Aunty Booka – the mascot for Paint the Booka REaD hatched last Friday. She had a great time at her birthday party, as she was read to by the Mayor of Wanneroo, Tracey Roberts, Cr David Boothman from the City of Stirling, Margaret Quick, the member for Girraween and Janine Freeman, the member for Mirrabooka plus lots and lots of children.
Many years ago, I was principal of a country school. It bothered me that too many of our children had trouble learning to read and write. It bothered me into action.
In my school we made a huge effort. Best practice. It was a blitz. With great results, right?
Well, no. We had results, but they were not great. For all our efforts, the results were — as a teacher I hate admitting this — disappointing. This got me thinking. Are some children just doomed? Or were we missing something? I looked wider. What I found changed everything.
Study after study showed that a child’s ability to learn to read and write at school is set in the first five years of life. The first three years, in fact. School was too late. And what’s needed in those early years? Simple. Yet I could see that it wasn’t happening in many families.
Spend time with children every day, from birth — talking, singing, rhyming, reading — and you’ll prepare them to read and write at school. It’s from this insight that Paint the Town REaD was born.
‘Painting the town red’ carries the notion of celebration, of ‘doing’ the town, of saturating it with excitement and enthusiasm. That’s the literacy culture we want to generate. We pull together community groups, agencies and businesses, and we inspire them to integrate this culture into everything they do with (and as) families. And to keep inventing the most fun and creative ways to do so.
It’s a growing, nationwide network of people whose influence can change thousands of lives, long term.
Will you join us?
Rhonda Brain, OAM