Thursday, 5 May 2011

Reading books is part of

learning at school, or it should be. All the same I wonder which books they will ask teenage parents to read when they forcibly return them to school.
If the leaked Budget information is accurate then the Federal Government is planning on making the receipt of social welfare payments dependent on returning to school or being in other training for employment. Just how they intend to enforce this I do not know.
It is true that many teenage girls who become pregnant have not finished school. They also have no training for employment. Many, but not all, also come from backgrounds where other family members are also on social welfare payments - and have been for years.
Some of these teenagers will barely be able to read. Reading is not an important part of their lives. It is much easier to push a button and have instant entertainment without any effort on their part.
Even if they received intensive one to one tuition this may not turn these teenagers into readers. Books written especially for reluctant readers are not likely to grab them, even if the subject matter relates to their own experiences. A friend who has spent years working with young unmarried mothers from low socio-economic backgrounds once indicated that this sort of reading material is often seen as offensive. The young mothers simply do not want to read such things.
Do they want to read anything at all? Some do not but others want to engage actively with the children they are bringing up. If they can be persuaded that reading to young children is important then they may, at least sometimes, read a picture book to their child or children.
I think that may be where they need to start. If we do it that way then we will benefit not just one person but two or more. Not everyone will do it. It may not be done often or consistently but even sometimes is better than never.
It would mean supplying more picture books to schools and libraries. It would mean education about these things and encouragement to do them. The simple language of many picture books may be ideal for reluctant teenage readers. If they believe they are reading to their child rather than for themselves they may accept the simple language involved.
Of course I may be wrong - but Dr Seuss et al seems like a good place to start.


Sarah said...

I'd love to think that we could engage reluctant teenage readers like this. Even if they never develop a love for books they might be able to pass one on to their children.

I'm a bit confused by something though. If the teenage Mothers are back at school or in training, who will be looking after the babies? Whilst the idea sounds a good one in theory, I can't see anyone backing it if it means the recipients spending all their benefit payments on childcare.

catdownunder said...

I think the idea is that the children go into special child care centres where they will get extra as well. Unfortunately I really wonder whether a teenager will get her child to child care and herself to school and do the necessary work.