Novel ways to get kids reading

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Jacqueline HarveyTo win one of 10 copies of the soontobereleased Alice Miranda Keeps The Beat send your name, email and postal address to [email protected] Good luck!

Making up stories kids love reading is serious business for Jaqueline Harvey.

The former teacher and now much-loved author of the Alice Miranda series sees her job of encouraging young people to read as one of the most important aspects of her storytelling.

She said latest research has found that “reading for pleasure is the greatest indicator of whether a child will be successful, with a broader, more empathetic view of the world and a mind open to different thinking and knowledge” which according to Jacqueline is one of the greatest gifts you can give a child.

About to launch the 18th book in the series, Alice Miranda Keeps the Beat, she said the main character was based on the “best bits” of three girls she adored teaching a few years ago at a boarding school in Sydney, providing the perfect lead character who is brave, positive, clever and, most of all, kind.

As one of Australia’s most popular children’s authors, who also writes the Clementine Rose and Kensy and Max series, she said her proudest moments are when she receives emails from children who say they disliked reading … until they read one of her books.

She said the millions of book sales and prestigious awards she receives are very much appreciated, but it’s getting children off their devices and into books that continues to inspire her.

“While it has been a lot of hard work, I do sometimes still pinch myself and think how fortunate I am to be doing what I love,” she said. “When I was teaching one of my areas of interest was coming up with ways of encouraging young people to not only read but have a passion for it and that is something I have been able to achieve through my books.

“I get so many letters from both boys and girls telling me they didn’t like reading until they picked up one of my books and that is just so rewarding.

“I can’t stress enough what a tremendous thing you are doing just by encouraging your children to pick up a book and read.

“No matter your background or economic status anybody can learn to read and it can lead to so many opportunities.”

And opportunities is something the talented writer knows all too well.

Not only has she sold more than 1.25 million copies in Australia and New Zealand alone but Alice Miranda is about to hit the big screen.

The 80-minute animated movie is being co-produced by SLR Productions and German-based ZDF Enterprises in partnership with Screen Australia and will premiere on the Nine Network. For the former school teacher, who decided to become a full-time writer after more than 20 years’ in education, she said there is so much parents can do to help develop a love of reading.

“You can never start too young as long as you start,” she said. “Reading to your children can be so enjoyable for both of you, even if you only have 10 minutes. Make a conscious effort to make it part of your day, it can be so much fun and you will be making memories that will last a lifetime.”

Jacqueline’s Top Ten Tips to get children reading

  1. Set aside a time every day for your child to read – have a reading routine
  2. Read with your children – read to them and don’t stop just because they start reading for themselves
  3. When reading together, particularly with children who are just learning to read, encourage your child to predict the text and talk about the story
  4. Make a regular time each week to visit the local library with your child to borrow books or at least ensure that they borrow each week from the school library
  5. Visit book shops together and buy books as presents for them and their friends
  6. Tell stories at home – encourage your child to talk about their day – talk about your day – turn off the television and ditch the devices to have a family dialogue – show them the value of stories and talk about the books they read too
  7. With older children, read the books they are reading so you can have shared dialogue
  8. Encourage your child to play dress ups and engage in make-believe games based on favourite books
  9. Model reading to your children – be it novels or newspapers, make sure that they know you value reading
  10. Fill your home with books

To win one of 10 copies of the soontobereleased Alice Miranda Keeps The Beat send your name, email and postal address to [email protected] Good luck!