Raising Readers by Megan Daley

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UQP, 2019. ISBN: 9780702262579.
(Age: Adult) Recommended. This is unashamedly a book about books, the subtitle How to nurture a child's love of books clearly places the author among those for whom books are a passion they want everyone to share. However, instead of a lot of 'motherhood' statements the first part is full of well researched information about the mechanics of reading organised along developmental stages with multiple strategies for enhancing learning and dealing with issues as they are encountered. The difference between educational readers and recreational reading is explained, stimulating different kinds of learning in the child, one without the other will leave gaps. Equally the importance of comprehension along with word recognition is explored. Asserting the need for multiple strategies for children learning to read, the author has included are many first-hand accounts from experts and 'literary friends'. Particularly valuable are the book recommendations which refreshingly feature Australian books. Parents and educators need to offer children a balanced literary diet but can unconsciously do a disservice by selecting books with a gender bias. Marketing is often quite gender specific and in one of the very interesting contributions author Jacqueline Harvey talks about the frustrations of adults making decisions that her books are not for boys. The second part of the book looks at the features of different genres, as a fan of graphic novels I was pleased to see them discussed and valued. The chapter on multimodal and digital reading suggests the decoding skills necessary for reading can be transferred successfully into computational thinking, 'thinking logically, decomposing into smaller parts, looking for and recognising patterns, abstracting ideas, designing algorithms and making judgements' p. 150. Computer coding is a language and learning it can enable children 'not just to use digital technologies, but to read, comprehend and create them p. 151. Making and creating are integral parts of a reading strategy, from making book week costumes to library makerspaces and the research skills acquired, the link between enjoying stories and creating responses to them whether it be written, oral or visual are not forgotten. Some of the more subtle aspects of reading; mindfulness, sustainability and diversity are discussed and there are some useful 'How to' guides at the end of the book. Comprehensive end notes and contributor biographies make this a surprisingly concise, readable, useful and inspiring addition to any parent or teacher's library.
Sue Speck