Megan Daley, Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of books, University of Queensland Press, April 2019, 246 pp., RRP $27.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780702262579
I am not the most objective person when it comes to this book, but I am sure I can review it with some impartiality. Full disclosure. I worked with Megan in my first teacher librarian job and we have remained friends since then. This book is a culmination of two years of writing and editing, but of course, is based on Megan’s experience and practice as a teacher librarian for the last 20.
Raising Readers: How to nurture a child’s love of booksdoes exactly what the title promises. It covers all ages from infants to teenagers, references academic research, includes well-known voices who speak with authority on a range of topics, and recommends a number of relevant texts for readers of all ages. The scope of this informative text is ambitious and tightly structured.
The early chapters on infants and learning to read are particularly prevalent for parents and grandparents of newborns, seeking to ground their child in early literacy. Megan emphasises the need to immerse young children in quality books, and the concepts of bonding and forming positive feelings towards books and story. Her personal anecdotes are both heart-warming and important. We see how significant the role of reading can be in family time, and this is a positive message about the importance of words and language.
The next chapters deals with the role of the school library, and should be mandatory reading for all pre-service teachers. She argues this specialised role is often the first to go in schools when staffing numbers becomes an issue. Her advocacy for school libraries is passionate, backed with research and stories about students in her own libraries who have benefited from her knowledge and compassion. The breadth of information here is deep and varied – space to read, extending readers, and book clubs – are just a few discussed.
The book also embraces and acknowledges diversity of readers and writers. She has made a point to reference many Australian authors and illustrators recognising the depth of talent we have. Her invitation to write for the book was taken up by everyone, a testament to Megan’s reputation in the children’s publishing industry. The addition of these voices reflects many of our modern sensibilities, at the same as ensuring its longevity and appeal to a wide audience.
This is a book that can reach a number of different audiences. Megan’s voice is conversational yet informative, consistently clear and always authentic. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Trisha Buckley