Reading and the Home Culture


House Notes - Random House

Neil Béchervaise


How do we miss the obvious. And how do we see it so obviously when it is pointed out to us. What is it ? I hear you ask. Well. Anything. All things are obvious if we can establish the context we are supposed to see them in. Cinderella, the Big, Bad Wolf, even Fish and Chips. But what if operate outside the context that things are obvious in? A MacDonalds store in Beijing seems strange to most of us. Not reading seems strange to others.


Recent studies at University of Sydney suggest that many students find reading difficult and unappealing because it has not been a real part of their lives from early childhood. We accept that children should be read to but we seldom stop to think that early reading establishes a context of acceptance, of comfort and stimulation. Parents who read to their children often read for themselves so the value of reading is affirmed.


When school beginners are told that reading is good, fun, interesting, useful, essential, they check the information against the security of their family life. Does the home context support the school demand?



Is reading essential among the adults at home? Is it fun to read the junk mail and the bills? Is it interesting to read the newspaper when television is more current, more succinct and, superficially at least, more accessible? Some students accept the requirements of school reading without ever being convinced, others merely turn away.


In an increasingly multicultural Australian society, the need for modelling reading in the pre-school home - in the home language or in English - is a crucial element in the establishment of the willing reader. The continuation of reading aloud to students throughout their school years substantiates the model.