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Sunday, June 30, 2019

'Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books' by Megan Daley

From the BLURB: 

Some kids refuse to read, others won’t stop – not even at the dinner table! Either way, many parents question the best way to support their child’s literacy journey. When can you start reading to your child? How do you find that special book to inspire a reluctant reader? How can you tell if a book is age appropriate? What can you do to keep your tween reading into their adolescent years? 

Award-winning teacher librarian Megan Daley has the answersto all these questions and more. She unpacks her fifteen years of experience into this personable and accessible guide, enhanced with up-to-date research and first-hand accounts from well-known Australian children’s authors. It also contains practical tips, such as suggested reading lists and instructions on how to run book-themed activities.

Raising Readers is a must-have guide for parents and educators to help the children in their lives fall in love with books.

'Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books' is the non-fiction how-to book that the Australian publishing industry needed - written by teacher librarian, 'Queensland Teacher Librarian of the Year' and recipient of the national Dromken Librarians Award AND blogger over at 'Children's Books Daily' - Megan Daley (phew!) 

This book was not written specifically for authors, but in my role as a literary agent, editor, author and youth-literature advocate that was the way I came to view this resource ... and though it was not intended as such, I found it to also be a great stockpile of info for new and emerging authors; so that's the point from which I'm reviewing it. 

Straight up in the introduction, Daley explains the purpose and usefulness of the book; 

'Raising Readers' is a guide for parents and a resource for educators. Like all good non-fiction books (my teacher librarian hat is on now), you can dip into this book as needed or you can read it from start to finish. I will walk you through each stage of a child's literacy development - from birth to adolescence - and offer advice, connect you with the right books at the right times, share pieces of wisdom from my literary friends, as well as some tips and tricks to ensure your family's or classroom's reading journeys are as memorable and as engaging as they can be.

All of which is true, and means this book is for *anyone* who cares about children becoming readers for life, and having their imaginations constantly expanded and nurtured. 

But there are ways that the book can be used as a call-to-arms and a guiding-light in lateral ways too, which I am sure Daley was also aware of when writing. Like how she constantly highlights throughout, the overwhelming importance of teacher librarians in schools and what a well-managed and cared-for library does to a school community, especially in improving literacy (something that literally *all* of the studies and science show correlates too). 

Coming from a family of mostly primary-school teachers from the public-schools sector, I know that not every school has a funded library, and not every child has access to what is essential learning and living in books. 'Raising Readers' has some great guides and how-to's in talking about the need for thoughtful library collections and teacher librarians to manage them, should any parent reading this want help in appealing to a school board or funding committee. While a chapter on 'Acknowledging and Reflecting Diversity' can even be used by those school communities for whom funding and access is *not* the issue, but broadening horizons and being mindful of inclusion *is.* 

Likewise for any educators and librarians struggling on ever-tightening budgets, Daley's words will be both balm and lightning-rod for talking-points and back-up! 

As Daley mentioned, the ability to dip in and out of the book is there, or even flick through and look for breakout-boxes offering lists of recommended-reads and activities, etc. Though I will say that some of the books listed did run a little old, dating from the 90s and early-00s ... but I guess this was an attempt to actually *not* date the book by only listing current "hot-reads" that may not stand the test of time like many "classics" Daley mentions. And, look, if you actually want to keep up-to-date on YouthLit trends (which you SHOULD, if Daley's messaging leaves any mark on you!) then use the ever-evolving and vital resource of her: Children's Books Daily blog - and the focus on #LoveOzYA and #LoveOzMG recs is truly fabulous! 

'Raising Readers' as I said,  is also an invaluable resource for new and emerging authors. I'd say that on the writing and creativity front, 'Writing Irresistible Kidlit: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Fiction for Young Adult and Middle Grade Readers' by Mary Kole (my FAVE!) is one-half of the conversation for the just-getting-started side, and Megan Daley's 'Raising Readers' is perfect for the next phase of an author's life, when they have to work and monetise their writing career. In this the final chapter of 'How-To Guides' is brilliant, particularly the section on 'How to host an author or illustrator visit'. 

In this, Daley will give authors some idea of what is expected of them (how to talk about their books in terms of curriculum, what kids get out of visits with creators etc.) but more importantly, Daley having shown "the stakes" as they are for teacher librarians and schools, gives authors an appreciation of how *on-point* their presentations and interactions have to be; how rehearsed (but not *too* rehearsed) fun, engaging, educational, and above all - worthwhile. Because schools and libraries work to tight-budgets, and sometimes they're even battling against wider communities and adults who don't yet understand the value and importance of investing in nurturing a love of reading in children, at all ages. 

Highly-highly recommend 'Raising Readers' for everyone and anyone who thinks that a world full of well-read kids engaged with their imagination and empathy is in everyone's best interests! 


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