Why is reading important?

Almost half (46%) of Australians over 15 lack the literacy skills they need to meet the demands of everyday life and work.

Literacy is one of the most important foundations for success in school and life. It is well documented that an individual’s literacy levels affect their opportunities in life for education, employment, income and wellbeing

We also know that:

  • The building blocks for literacy start very early in life – well before a child starts school or pre-school. The years from birth to age five are critical for building the emergent literacy skills that precede learning to read and write and a child’s early literacy skills are a predictor of later literacy and academic achievement.
  • Not all children arrive at school ready to take advantage of the learning opportunities provided at school. In Australia 22% of 5 year old children are developmentally vulnerable in one or more domains of development
  • Those who don’t arrive ready sometimes never catch up, even with appropriate intervention. Currently our primary school children are some of the worst performing internationally in literacy – Australian Year 4 children are ranked 27th out of 45 countries in reading.
  • The early home learning environment makes a difference for children’s later academic and literacy success, particularly for children in disadvantaged circumstances.
  • Many families are not aware of the importance of early literacy or how to foster its development. For this reason, community services and the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector have an important role to play in working with families to support children’s emergent literacy development.

Sharing stories from birth gives children a great start to life

The best way to equip children for their future is by helping them build a solid early language and literacy foundation well before school. Reading with children helps protect them from later reading problems, supports vocabulary and cognitive development and facilitates adult-child bonding.

Sharing books from birth helps children become better readers for life

Children are born ready to learn and the best learning occurs within nurturing relationships. Establishing the building blocks for literacy starts very early in life and a child’s early literacy skills are a predictor for later literacy and academic achievement. An individual’s literacy levels affect their opportunities in life for education, employment, income and well-being.

Let’s Read aims to ensure all children aged birth to five years have the chance to share books, songs and nursery rhymes every day via their relationships with the important people in their lives including parents, grandparents, carers, siblings and early education and care workers.

To learn more about current early literacy research see the 2013 Let's Read Literature Review.