Tess Nichol is an NZME. News Service reporter.

Dare to Explore: Kids flock to summer reading

Auckland Libraries help pupils keep up over big break.
Krish Mani, 7, is almost ready to move on to chapter books, his mother says. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Krish Mani, 7, is almost ready to move on to chapter books, his mother says. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A summer reading programme run by Auckland Libraries has helped more than 12,000 children keep on top of their reading over the long holiday break.

As several children head back to school this week, those who took part in Dare To Explore over summer could find the transition back into the classroom a little easier.

Children can lose up to six months of reading ability over the summer break and the reading programme aims to stop that.

Research by Dare To Explore in previous years has shown children with the least amount of reading confidence are the ones who benefit most from taking part.

This time around the programme saw an increase in enrolments of more than 26 per cent compared to last year, with particularly big increases in Glen Innes, Devonport and Birkenhead Libraries.

Enrolments in Glen Innes tripled, something Dare to Explore co-ordinator Danielle Carter said was thanks to the hard work of local librarians and the support of teachers pushing families to enrol their children before school ended last year.

Ms Carter said it seemed the programme reached more Auckland families over these holidays than ever before.

"The librarians all across the city play a really active part in talking to all the families and being part of the community," she said.

Michelle Timoti-Hohaia and her children Hemi, 4, Rita, 9, and Arotia, 7, are ready to read. Photo / Kellie Blizard
Michelle Timoti-Hohaia and her children Hemi, 4, Rita, 9, and Arotia, 7, are ready to read. Photo / Kellie Blizard

Pop-up story times and activities hosted in libraries were part of the programme and librarians also visited families at home over the summer, bringing over books, making reading recommendations to children and discussing progress with their parents.

"The librarians sound tired but really positive, really enthusiastic," Ms Carter said as the programme wrapped up for the summer.

As well as reading books, children can complete a series of challenges to help advance their reading in the Dare To Explore activity book.

This year a te reo component was added to the programme and Ms Carter said initial feedback indicated it had been appreciated.

"One story I was really happy to hear was a family who had been working on building their own te reo Maori and had been working with their kids to translate that part of the programme as they worked through and did the challenges.

"We also heard of a kura kaupapa teacher using the challenges to teach her class."

As well as enrolling 12,265 schoolchildren in Dare To Explore, Auckland Libraries gained more than 1500 new members through this year's programme.

Book-filled holiday puts Krish on track

Two years ago, Henderson schoolboy Krish Mani was distraught, telling his mum he was the only one of his friends who couldn't read.

Now, over these summer holidays alone, the 7-year-old has powered through an impressive 110 books and his mum, Monika Mani, said he's almost confident enough to start reading chapter books.

In a letter to Auckland Libraries, Krish, who attends Hare Krishna School in Kumeu, thanked staff for helping him learn to read.
"Last year I did not know how to read and then I joined the summer reading programme," he wrote.

Krish Mani’s letter to Auckland Libraries.
Krish Mani’s letter to Auckland Libraries.

"Last year I read 50 books ... This year my goal is to read more than 100 books."
Krish achieved his goal easily and read every day of the holidays, his mum said.

Mrs Mani credits Dare To Explore for her son's improvement.

She said she believed children learned to read in their own time so she hadn't pushed Krish, but that changed when he came home one day near the end of the school year and told her he was the only person in his class who couldn't read.

"He was very upset because he said 'all my friends at school know how to read except me', so he was feeling very bad."

She took Krish down to their local library to sign him up for Dare To Explore and by the end of that first summer Krish had read more than 50 books.

"In the beginning, I remember he struggled, I had to sit next to him and pronounce the words he didn't know. But now I can work in the kitchen and he can read away on his own."

Mrs Mani said she was "so proud" of her son, who was now helping his younger brother learn how to read.

"I get him to read to the little one too," Mrs Mani said.

"I'm feeling very relieved, very relaxed and so proud of him. I'm not a good reader actually but I want my kids to be readers."

- NZ Herald

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