Free kids' books 'priceless'

Lilijana Thomson gets excited when another book comes in the mail each month, addressed to her.

The North St Marys preschooler, 3, was signed up six months ago to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which supplies one free book a month to interested families with children aged five and under to promote early literacy skills.

"To be honest, it's encouraged me personally to read to her more," Lilijana's mother Lisa said.

"That's normally something her dad does on the weekend, but when a book comes in the mail and she says 'Can you read it mummy?' you can't really say no.

"She's got her own bookshelf in the playroom and she usually rips them down two or three times a week and flicks through them.

"To get the physical book is a good thing, especially these days when there are so many e-books and iPads and it's all so digital.

"To get a book is priceless and something I think all kids should experience."

My Uncle's Donkey and Just Jack have been a hit.

"It had a really good moral to it, basically telling him he didn't need to be a superhero, he could just be himself which I thought was lovely," Mrs Thomson said.

The senior lecturer in Early Childhood Development at The University of Western Sydney, Joanne Orlando, said reading age-appropriate books, leaflets and shop signage was important for school readiness.

"Children have to become familiar with the way our language works when it's written and that comes from being read to or reading themselves," Dr Orlando said.

"'They'll understand how sentences are put together and the different purposes of writing and these are very important to becoming good readers and writers themselves."

Details: unitedway.com.au.

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