United through reading

Tom Staggard

ELIZABETH Grove and Elizabeth Vale families will soon see an influx of books in their letter-boxes, thanks to the expansion of a preschool reading program that is improving child literacy skills.

The United We Read program, run by United Way SA, aims to improve the access families in disadvantaged communities have to reading by delivering one free book, per month, to children up to five years old.

More than 8000 books have been distributed to over 600 children in the Playford area since the program’s inception, with more than 60 additional families expected to receive books this year in the Elizabeth Grove and Elizabeth Vale areas.

United Way SA community impact manager Kerry Davies said the child’s excitement helps push reading to the forefront for families, and makes the child keen to begin learning, which helps them when they reach school.

“With the excitement of a book arriving in the letter-box, you get the children leading the reading, so they’re asking adults to read to them,” she said.

“That’s why it is key to operate this kind of program in the preschool space, because as kids are exposed to the letters in these books, when they get to school, they have already developed reading skills and they are ready to learn.”

Ms Davies said United Way survey families at various times throughout the program to receive feedback, and that the change in reading behaviour is huge.

“We found that daily reading jumped from just 10 per cent to 75 per cent among families within the program,” she said.

“Ninety-four per cent of parents also reported it had changed their attitude towards reading and made them more aware of the need for their child to read regularly.”

The funding for the program is provided by the Australian Government Department of Social Services and is facilitated through Anglicare’s Playford Communities for Children.

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