Nearly one in five Australian adolescents performs poorly in literacy, and that number is growing. ECU literacy researcher Dr Margaret Merga is developing strategies to prevent the rise of aliteracy – teenagers who have developed the basic mechanics of literacy, but are uninterested in continuing to read for pleasure in adulthood.
Without sustained reading practice, these adolescents risk a decline in literacy competency over time. Teaching a young child the mechanics of reading is only the first step in developing competency in literacy through teenage years. Both parents and teachers have a key role to play in helping to develop skills and habits to carry through to adulthood.
Books, not devices
The more devices a child had access to, the less they read in general.
Screens are not the answer. Research has shown that providing children with eReading devices can actually inhibit their reading, and that paper books are often still preferred by young people.
In fact, researchers found that the more devices a child had access to, the less they read in general. Rather than giving children technology to spark interest in books, ECU experts have found that parents can help their children develop a love of reading and improve literacy by simply spending time reading aloud to them – long after they can read independently.
Schools also have an important role to play in supporting children with the transition into competent lifelong readers.
To explore more of this subject, read these articles authored or co-authored by Dr Merga for The Conversation.
Research suggests reading more can improve literacy outcomes across a range of indicators. But girls typically read more frequently than boys, and have a more positive attitude toward reading.
Families are busy, and finding time to read aloud can be eaten up by the demands of everyday life. In a recent study, more than one-quarter of primary-school-aged respondents claimed they were never read to at home.
There is a common perception that children are more likely to read if it is on a device such as an iPad or Kindles. But new research shows that this is not necessarily the case.
Regular recreational book reading is one of the easiest ways for a student to continue developing their literacy skills.