Read to me! UNICEF and partners launched campaign promoting early reading aloud
By Gorana Dojcinovic
ZAGREB, 2 April 2013 - Children from kindergarten “Razlicak” and Center for hearing impaired children “Slava Raskaj” jointly launched the campaign “Read to me!”, beginning on the International Day of Children’s Book supported by UNICEF National Ambassador Maja Vucic, actor Filip Juricic and children’s writer and storyteller Zeljka Horvat Vukelja.
Children with hearing loss and with Down syndrome enthusiastically supported the inclusive campaign`s start in one of the most popular libraries in Zagreb called Bogdan Ogrizovic. At the site, parents could learn techniques by reading aloud, using facial expressions, signs, pictures and encouraging children to repeat the sounds and sign language.
Campaign promoting early reading aloud throughout Croatia aims to increase the habit of reading aloud to young children with and without disabilities, as recent UNICEF-supported survey showed that thousands of families do not read to young children, for different reasons, including poverty.
Joint reading aloud, as evidence suggests, benefits children in many ways: it improves their language, social and cognitive skills and makes them ready for school. It also increases “face time” with parents, promotes physical contact and positive interactions, and may reduce television exposure. Starting with reading aloud as little as 15 minutes a day, parents or caregivers can help create a lasting habit that will help children succeed in school and life.
UNICEF teamed up with National Library Society, National Association of Paediatricians, National Readers’ Society and Croatian Society of Researchers in Children’s Literature, with endorsement from the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth and the Ministry of Culture, to reach every child and family with this campaign.
”Picture books and reading aloud are not part of childhood for thousands of children. For families living in poverty, books these days are a luxury. That is why campaign aims to reach all young children and their families, but focusing on the most disadvantaged boys and girls. Reading aloud can be a special time for parents and children to bond. Joint reading aloud, for 15 minutes a day, can create a lifetime love for learning,” UNICEF Programme Coordinator Djurdjica Ivkovic said at the launch.
Professor Ivanka Stricevic from the Croatian Society of Libraries stated that, “Children’s libraries are open to everybody and we invite parents to use their rights and their children’s rights to use their services and the wealth of reading materials that they make available to every child since the earliest age. Children’s librarians are there to help them choose the age-appropriate books as well as support parents in joint moments of reading.”
Events promoting reading aloud will be organised throughout the country until the end of 2013, with support of municipal libraries and paediatric clinics. To reach the most disadvantaged families with the campaign, UNICEF will supply first picture books for boys and girls in the poorest and most remote areas of Croatia as well as support the training of paediatricians in teaching parents how to read aloud to their children.