Did you know one in five Australian children do not meet international benchmarks for reading¹? That’s pretty staggering, right?
This number drops even further when considering our Indigenous and remote communities.
According to the 2018 National Assessment Program for Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN), “only 36% of Indigenous Year 5 students in very remote areas are at or above national minimum reading standards, compared to 96% for non-Indigenous students in major cities.”
Australia Post and the Indigenous Literacy Foundation
This year Australia Post has committed to help improve literacy levels amongst all kids in Australia. One of its initiatives is a partnership with the Indigenous Literacy Foundation (ILF). The ILF is designed to help communities in remote areas improve literacy levels by delivering books to kids who don’t have access to literary resources.
Most of the remote communities that ILF works with report there are fewer than five books in family homes. So far, ILF has gifted more than 400,000 new books to at least 400 remote Indigenous communities. All children should be inspired to love reading and writing. Having access to these resources is a big step in the right direction.
Bringing back the love of literacy
Having access to literacy tools is certainly important. But, I’ll be the first to admit that my kids would still choose their iPads over their pile of books any day. They just don’t seem as excited about reading and writing as I once was.
I still remember writing letters to friends around the country, sharing what I got for Christmas, who my crush was that month and what I was doing for school holidays. Then eagerly awaiting the responses and getting excited every time the postman delivered the mail.
Reading and writing were part of life back then. You know, back in the good ol’ 70s, 80s and 90s when dinosaurs roamed the earth, high-tops were a thing and writing to our pen pals was a weekly occurrence.
We had stacks of diaries and notepads, comics and books that we couldn’t put down. Even in class we would write letters to friends and pass them across our desks, folded into a perfect origami square, of course. Heck, I even had a Doodle Bear, a stuffed animal that encouraged you to WRITE all over him.
Back then, literacy was encouraged and celebrated. Now, asking my kids to put pen to paper is literally a chore for them. It shouldn’t be. With Australia Post’s Pen Pal Club program, it’s not.
How the program works
The Australia Post Pen Pal Club inspires children to love reading and writing again through an exciting classroom activity. Mums, be sure to speak to your kid’s teachers about whether they are participating.
The Pen Pal Club program helps teachers connect with other classrooms to write letters to, based on your child’s classroom, location and age group. The Pen Pal Club is open year-round to Australian schools and early learning centres, and better yet – it’s free to join.
The Australia Post Pen Pal Club is also supported with curriculum-aligned lesson plans, sample templates and loads more through the Australia Post website.
Read all about it
The Pen Pal Club program is ideal for classrooms around the country but you can still bring this love of reading and writing home with you as well. One way to do this is to look for The Pen Pal Club book ($9.99), written by Sally Morgan, illustrated by Annie White and published by Australia Post.
The story follows the journey of pen pals from diverse settings across Australia who exchange hand-written letters with each other. The book makes a perfect story to add to your child’s current book rotation and encourages letter writing among primary school-aged children around the country. You can also get Pen Pal Club writing kits to add to the excitement and start practising those letters at home.
For every Pen Pal Club book sold, a $1 donation will be made to the Indigenous Literacy Foundation so they can continue to supply books to children in remote communities.
Read, write, receive
If you’d love to see your child or your child’s class get involved in The Pen Pal Club, then be sure to enter our competition below, pass the details on to your child’s teacher and pick up your own set for home at any Australia Post.
This is a sponsored post for Australia Post
¹According to The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study
²How does early childhood care and education affect cognitive development? An international review of the effects of early interventions for children from different social backgrounds’, Early Childhood Research Quarterly,vol.25(2), pp.140 –165.