Why Do It?
Research highlights that developing early literacy skills is extremely important since children who do not develop solid early literacy skills tend to fall further behind as they progress through the educational system. (Vellutino, Scanlon, & Lyon, 2003)..
A good summary of the benefits of early literacy can be found using this web link:
Not only does Doorstep Reading help improve young children’s literacy development; it also has other benefits within the family including parent-child bonding. Early relationships influence young children’s literacy development and the establishment of regular, shared reading routines enhances a secure relationship between parent and child. In 2003, three researchers found by examining the home routines related to literacy that parents and babies with stronger attachments shared more time reading together than parent-child pairs with weaker attachments. (Vellutino, Scanlon, & Lyon, 2003)
In summary – a child who has a parent willing to sit down and read with them gets a whole lot more than a story. Not only does it strengthen their attachment with that parent, but is it fantastic for the child’s brain development and sets them up for an increased likelihood of success at school and throughout life..
It is for this reason that parents are encouraged to come out onto the doorsteps and join in for Rainbow Reader Storytime. The offering of Rainbow Reader books to borrow increases the accessibility of quality age-appropriate books for families to enjoy together between Rainbow Reader visits.
"Reading is so important for young children. If you can get in early, and help them get interested in books, the implications are just huge. They are able to pay better attention at school, and they can keep up with the other children. You can notice the difference in kids who have come from homes where reading hasn’t been an important activity." (Interview with a Rainbow Reader Volunteer)
In addition to the early literacy benefits, Doorstep Reading has the potential to be the catalyst for further development of relationships between many stakeholders, including agencies, volunteers and members of the community. The fact that it takes place outside of families’ homes makes it very non-threatening, and the simplicity of the model works beautifully to bring a cross section of stakeholders together for a positive common purpose.
This has definitely been a flow-on benefit of Rainbow Readers in Hamilton South estate. The events, in particular, were great opportunities for various community stakeholders to learn what each other are up to in the community, and to identify ways of working towards (and resources available for) overcoming challenges they have in common.
Leading up to the ceasation of Rainbow Readers funding, families in one particular street identified how much they valued Rainbow Readers and put up their hands to be involved in Rainbow Readers sustainability planning. Their focus was ensuring that they could keep Rainbow Readers running so families from all over the estate could continue to meet once a week on the grassed area at the end of their cul-de-sac. The resources (books, rugs, shade shelter) we re-housed in one of the key person’s accessible garage, a letterbox drop and poster run was done across the estate notifying families of the new 2010 Rainbow Reader format, and contact made with two different agencies that work on the estate to discuss what they may be able to offer in terms of supporting the families who have taken on the Rainbow Readers co-ordination.
Vellutino, F., Scanlon, D. M., & Lyon, R. G. (2003). Differentiating between difficult-to-remediate poor readers. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 33, 223-239.