Since 2016 hundreds of children have enjoyed the Read to Me Day in the main street in Childers on the last Wednesday in August, as businesses, high school students and community groups join forces to inspire the reading of books to young ones.
Coordinator Judy Robertshaw from Isis District State High School said the day was developed to help foster important skills.
“School Entry language acquisition and communication skills, in our region, were the lowest in the state and Queensland was second to NT as the lowest state/territory,” Judy said.
“However, the good news was that studies were revealing that if a child is read to 4 to 5 times a week, they were 7 times more likely to successfully complete their studies.
“A wonderful man called John Hughes, and good friend of ours, invited us to join in on a Tully Times Read to Me Day about 7 years ago.
“It was amazing and given the similarities between Tully and Childers – apart from the obvious – our towns have known tragedy and have the same amazing resilience to fight back; to not give up on anyone.”
Judy and her team looked at how the Read to Me program ran in Tully and was inspired to run it in Childers for children under 8 years old.
“Childers produces amazingly successful students despite the lower entrance skills, why not empower all children to fly, or fly higher.
“We can do this by reading to our babies and young children.
“Childers Read to Me Day is committed to sending the message to families and community that they have the power to change their children’s lives, one book at a time!
“The day also promotes the active participation of older students, which in turn, empowers them to make a difference to their community and family.”
With COVID-19 restrictions stopping large crowds from meeting, organisers looked at another way to make it happen.
“Due to COVID-19 restrictions in place at the time the decision was made, we sadly cancelled our regular event that is embedded in community by gathering in the main street.
“Being resourceful and somewhat pig-headed we refused to let the message wane, so we came up with the idea to take a mini version to our participating schools and early childcare providers.
“We will have 3 or 4 reading stations, activities and dancing, with a few high schoolers to entertain.
“Instead of one big day we are travelling out to schools etc over a three week period at times negotiated with individual schools and centres.
“Members of our committee are rostering to cover the school/early childhood centre visits, along with members of Childers Police and a few high school students.
“We hope to enlist the services of volunteer readers who might like to be a part of their school’s day.”
As well as enlisting volunteers to help with reading, they are also asking for those who knit and crochet to make cute dolls to give to every child.
“It was thought that with the bush fires, droughts and then COVID-19 Restrictions that our children of Childers could do with some TLC, so it was decided to knit bears (similar to the wonderful Trauma Teddy) for inclusion in the book bags.
“The Baggie Bears love to snuggle with a child while they listen to a story and Baggie Bear will listen to a child read for hours on end.”
Wool and patterns are also available from the Childers Neighbourhood Centre.
Anyone interested in getting involved can contact Denise Rapkins at the Childers Library, Debra Murphy at the Childers Neighbourhood Centre, Michael Schmidt of the Childers Police or Tricia Dodd and Judy Robertshaw at Isis District State High School.