Megan Daley is a champion of Australian children’s literature and the authors and illustrators who create these quality Australian books. She is well-known as a blogger – Children’s Books Daily – and has won several awards, including the national Dromkeen Librarian’s Award.
Her first book Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books (University of Queensland Press) has just been published. It should be in every home and library. Every parent of a new-born should receive a copy.
It is a guide, a compendium, a handbook for those who want to encourage children to read.
Megan explains that this is a book to either read through or dip into. Her perspective is from that of a practitioner: a teacher-librarian and parent; with further insights from her academic experience.
Megan advises on children’s books in her professional capacity but, to the chagrin of her children, she also jumps in to help people choose books in bookshops. Her writing is often funny, peppered with anecdotes, and she is occasionally shushed by students in her school library for being too loud. Conversely, she writes about the very dark times following the premature death of her husband, Dan, and how books can help those experiencing grief and other trauma.
She surfs the zeitgeist by including chapters on Reading for the Future – sustainability and nature, where she highlights the contemporary children’s classic How to Bee by Bren MacDibble; Reading Mindfully which features the brilliant just-published picture book, A Quiet Girl by Peter Carnavas; and Acknowledging and Reflecting Diversity, where amongst other contributors writing about diversity, I have been privileged to write a short section on books about refugees and displaced children.
Megan Daley breaks new ground with her suggestions about books for tweens; creating beautiful reading spaces at home such as book-themed bedrooms; makerspaces in libraries (making and tinkering with low, medium and high-tech materials), and how to host book-themed parties. She includes how-to guides on giving books as gifts; fun ways to learn sight words; creating book week costumes and more.
She recognises challenges and obstacles to reading and suggests a variety of activities for bedtime and incidental reading such as car-library and café book-boxes; and ideas to keep older children reading by providing graphic novels and books that support the vicarious experience of reading about serious emotions and issues age-appropriately.
If unsure which books your children or students should read, use the lists throughout this guide (which don’t necessarily include well-known titles or classics) or consult a librarian or specialist or independent children’s bookshop.
Raising Readers is essential reading. It is a rich, energetic work.
My (slightly more formal) review will run soon in the Weekend Australian Review.
Buy Raising Readers in your local bookshop or through Megan Daley’s website.