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.
Michelle Calderbank was presented with WA’s Shire of Yilgarn Australia Day Active Citizenship Award for her significant contribution to supporting the Yilgarn community.
Michelle set up Paint the Yligarn REaD in her own time to provide the next generation of children in Southern Cross with the best possible chance to reach their potential. Michelle is a high school English teacher and witnesses firsthand the significant challenges for young people when they have not had the important early literacy foundational experiences. A long-time resident in Southern Cross, Michelle had the connections and the respect in the community to engage everyone in supporting and spreading the PTTR message. And this included her high school students who eagerly took on the catering role at the launch event, and gained catering qualifications in the process.
Michelle has a number of other voluntary roles in the community such as running the Young Entertainers program for the past 12 years and active involvement in sporting clubs.
Congratulations Michelle – a great PTTR Champion.
Michelle receiving her Australia Day Award. And yes, singing is an important part of the PTTR message.
Paint the Town REaD groups across Australia are off and running, and especially Librarians, who are including children under school age in their Summer Reading Challenges at their local libraries. It’s a great way to give children starting school that final boost, and for younger children to model from older siblings is always a super opportunity. And you might even bump into your local PTTR mascot there as well.
Rooby Roo and Blacktown Council’s Children’s Librarian Lee Castledine enjoying a book together. And Poppy Possum is at Cumberland Library getting her books read too!
Thank you to everyone who has made this year so special by increasing the opportunities for children to enjoy the wonder of being read and sung with.
From our amazing local community groups – now 50+ over five Australian states, through to funders like the St George Foundation, the AMP Foundation, the Eureka Foundation, the Commonwealth Bank, private donors and the many many probono supporters.
Here are two of them – wonderful woman, Roxanne Kiely (song writer) and Anne Donnelly (author). Roxanne, ran a Songwriting Workshop for Early Educators in Paint Cumberland REaD NSW, and Anne visited a combined playgroup in Mt Druitt NSW, where she grew up, to encourage young mums to reach for the stars.
Today we celebrate and remember the importance of National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children’s Day.
Thank you to the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Aunties and Uncles and workers from across Australia, who are leading us to Paint Australia REaD, Black and Yellow so that our children will arrive at school loving books and ready to learn.
With our 6th National Conference on next week, you only have a few days to go to register. So use the links to the right, to take you straight to the registration page!
And whilst everyone is preparing for the Conference, the Aboriginal Elders in Shoalhaven NSW have been busy giving their mascot egg to the children, supported by Mayor Amanda Findley. Children in Moree NSW are also reading with their egg and Parker Pelican in the Parks and Gardens in Adelaide has celebrated his first birthday, with a huge party of about 400 people, where there was lots of singing and families reading together in the local community park.
Elders leading reading at Paint Shoalhaven, REaD, Black and Yellow
Paint the Town REAd’s Reading Bug has had a busy time in Moree. She brought a magical mascot egg to the children in Moree East’s Playgroup, delivered the first book for the Books for Newborn Bubs in Moree Hospital and received a very generous cheque from the Commonwealth Bank to keep reading with children from birth in Moree.