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Books vital for toddlers, says New Zealand Book Council

Books vital for toddlers, says New Zealand Book Council

New Zealand’s leading national reading charity, the New Zealand Book Council, is concerned by new statistics revealing that approximately one-third of toddlers are not read to daily.

“A growing body of research shows it’s extraordinarily good for a toddler to have books read to them daily. Early and regular exposure to books supports language development, lowers stress levels and creates an intimate bonding opportunity,’’ says New Zealand Book Council CEO, Catriona Ferguson.

Responding to a Growing Up in New Zealand report, a longitudinal study by the University of Auckland which has been tracking 7000 New Zealanders since birth, Ferguson said New Zealand was not alone. “Recent research from the UK came up with a similar number.’’ The report, Now We Are Two: Describing our first 1000 days, found that 80% of New Zealand two year olds had watched TV or DVDs on a given day, but only 66% had one or more books read to them on a regular daily basis.

‘’Reading and a love of books has been shown to improve children’s outcomes – socially and economically. One recent study concluded that children whose fathers read to them concentrate better at preschool and even do better in maths, ’’ she says.

“For everyone’s sake, that figure should be much nearer to 100%.”

The Book Council’s nationwide programmes such as Writers in Schools bring more than 40,000 children face-to-face with local authors at more than 250 events around the country each year. These programmes are designed to encourage a love of reading and books in children, Ferguson says. “We are dedicated to inspiring a love of reading because we know the difference it makes to young lives.’’

There are many reasons why children might not be being read to, she said. “Rather than pointing fingers, we’ve provided a list of fantastic New Zealand books for toddlers on our website (http://booknotes-unbound.org.nz/top-10-read-aloud-favourites-kiwi-toddlers/) . They’re all great stories, and none of them takes more than a few minutes to read.’’


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