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9 February 2005
 
Book Babies
 
See how people in a small town are helping their children learn.


HEATHER EWART: When a baby is born in the Victorian town of Alexandra, one of its first experiences is to hear a parent reading a children's bedtime story.

The first book comes courtesy of a privately funded welfare group, known as Berry Street, in partnership with the local council and schools.

The project is called 'ELF', Early Learning is Fun, and is now into its second year.

For this little 10-month-old, Brianna Fountain, it means she can already say the word 'teddy', much to her parents' delight.

KYLIE FOUNTAIN: That's the girl.

Turn the page.

Good girl.

She's just picked up that word from the book.

And I don't think that otherwise, if I hadn't been reading to her as much as I have, that she would be able to pick up the words that she has from such an early age.

HEATHER EWART: Does it feel strange reading to a baby that can't even speak yet?

ANGELINA BELL: Yes, it does.

It is really strange 'cause often he doesn't even look at the pages.

But I think it's more the sound of your voice and the...yeah, the rhythm of reading a story to him that he enjoys.

See the wild horses run.

HEATHER EWART: These young mothers get together regularly.

They were amazed to receive their ELF kit and free book from the local maternal nurse within weeks of becoming parents.

They thought they wouldn't be reading to their children until they were at least two or three-years-old.

ANGELINA BELL: It was a surprise that it was encouraged from such an early age.

But, yeah, it's been fantastic.

And it's a lot of fun to sit down with your baby at the end of the night and make it a routine thing to do.

KYLIE FOUNTAIN: Yeah.

It makes it your special time.

HEATHER EWART: The whole town has got behind this project and it's now about much more than new parents and their babies.

Each year there's a parade down the main street, when schoolchildren, teachers and local businesses transport themselves into a world of make-believe - all in the name of encouraging kids to read.

GIRL: I'm going to read you a book called Elvira.

Hundreds of years ago there was a group of dragons...

MAN: They woke Bert from his slumberous snooze and said, "Listen, Bert, catastrophic news."

WOMAN: The neighbours looked at them as if they were crazy, but none of them cared.

HEATHER EWART: The children dress up as their favourite book characters.

And, for a few hours, walk past any shop here and you'll see the manager or an employee reading them stories.

While Alexandra doesn't yet have the hard evidence its scheme will work, its residents are confident they're on the right track.

They see their town as a role model for other communities.

DAVID HALL: Oh, look, I'm sure any town could match this.

You know, it's about the community being connected, coming together, and helping their children.

HEATHER EWART: And, at the very least, they're all having a lot of fun in the process.

DAVID HALL: Did you like that?

CHILDREN: Yep, thank you.

Thank you!

Very good.


story notes

 Alexandra
 
A town in Victoria.
 

 its
 
The possessive adjective its does not have an apostrophe like the contracted from of it is or it has.
 
more information: its & it's

 parent
 
A parent is a mother or father. Let's look at the parent word family.
 
Parenting refers to the raising of children and all the responsibilities that go with it.
 
Example: She has wonderful parenting skills.
 
Parentage is your origin. It's who you are and where you come from.
 
Example: He has royal parentage.
 
Parental is an adjective describing things connected with parents.
 
Example: Parental care among reptiles is unusual.

 children's
 
Notice the use of the possessive apostophe before the s.
 
Find out more about using the possessive apostrophe by following the link.
 
more information: possessive apostrophe

 its
 
The possessive adjective its does not have an apostrophe like the contracted from of it is or it has.
 
more information: its & it's

 parents'
 
The posssessive apostrophe is used after the s with plural nouns that end in s.
 
Find out more about using the possessive apostrophe by following the link.
 
more information: possessive apostrophe

 pick up
 
learn
 
Example: Children pick up languages more easily than adults.
 
There are many other meanings of the important phrasal verb pick up.
 
more information: pick up

 'cause
 
The short form of because. Notice that it has an apostrophe before it to indicate the missing letters and distinguish it from the word cause, which has a different meaning and pronunciation.
 
more information: 'cause

 thought
 
The past tense of the irregular verb think.
 
more information: think

 got behind
 
To get behind something is to completely support it.
 
Example: You should get behind the appeal to raise money for victims of the disaster.
 
Be careful not to get this saying confused with to get behind in, which means to be late with something or to not have enough done.

 it's
 
The short form of it is has an apostrophe to indicate the missing letter. (it is = it's) You should be careful not to confuse this with the possessive adjective its, which has no apostrophe.
 
more information: its & it's

 parade
 
A parade usually involves people and decorated vehicles moving down a street, with lots of people watching.
 

 world of make-believe
 
A world of make-believe is a pretend world. In a world of make-believe you can pretend to be somewhere else and or someone else.

 in the name of
 
If something is done in the name of something else, it's done for or on behalf of it.

 dress up
 
put on a costume or unusual clothes
 
Example: I'm going to dress up as a policeman.
 
Follow the link for more meanings of the phrasal verb dress up
 
more information: dress up

 employee
 
A person who is employed or works for someone. The person who employs someone to work is called an employer.
 
For more about the -ee suffix, follow the link.
 
more information: -ee suffix

 hard evidence
 
Hard evidence is strong proof of something.

 its
 
The possessive adjective its does not have an apostrophe like the contracted from of it is or it has.
 
more information: its & it's

 scheme
 
project

 its
 
The possessive adjective its does not have an apostrophe like the contracted from of it is or it has.
 
more information: its & it's

 residents
 
people who live there

 on the right track
 
To be on the right track is to be moving in the right direction or doing the right thing.
 
Example: English Bites is on the right track.