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Dymocks Launches NZ Literacy Foundation

July 16th 2004


Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Helen Clark today officiated at the launch of Dymocks Literacy Foundation in New Zealand - a charitable trust aiming to help kids learn to read and write effectively by encouraging parents to share books with children from birth.

The first of the Foundation's projects - Books for NZ Babies - was also announced today, by Dymocks Literacy Foundation Australasian CEO Julie Urquhart. This campaign is being run in partnership with Kidz First Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the South Auckland Health Foundation - and will roll out across the country as the Literacy Foundation develops.

As part of the campaign, the Dymocks Literacy Foundation will produce Baby Bookpacks in consultation with Kidz First, comprising a free book and reading tips, to be distributed to parents of premature and critically ill babies in the neonatal unit, with the goal of encouraging them to read to their newborns.

Says Ms Urquhart: "The programme is underpinned by the knowledge that bonding between parents and newborns is imperative to ongoing health and well-being - and that in many cases, the voice is the only means of communication between these parents and babies.

"Sharing books with children from birth not only promotes bonding, but is proven to have a powerful impact on literacy - both for these children and their families."

Confirms Dr Lindsay Mildenhall Clinical Leader, Newborn Services at Kidz First Children's Hospital: "There are some 200 premature or critically ill babies treated each year at our neonatal unit. This project will support and strengthen the parent child bond and cater for the special need that exists in our South Auckland families for reading materials."

Patrons of the Dymocks NZ Literacy Foundation include two well-known authors - New Zealand's much acclaimed children's writer Margaret Mahy and best-selling Australian author Bryce Courtenay, both of whom support the Foundation's guiding principle that 'Open Books = Open Minds'.

In the UK, research undertaken on a national programme that encouraged reading to children from birth, showed that these children were clearly ahead of their peers in both literacy and numeracy upon entering school. Likewise, the US International Reading Association and National Association for the Education of Young Children have stated that 'the single most important activity for building the understanding and skills essential for reading success appears to be reading aloud to children'.

"Dymocks has long held a vision to improve literacy in the communities in which it operates - a vision first realised a year ago with the launch of the Dymocks Literacy Foundation in Australia - and again today with its launch here in New Zealand," says Ms Urquhart.

"Books for NZ Babies is but the first of a number of initiatives which we will be undertaking to help address the challenge of improving literacy for all New Zealanders."


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