A third of Children in Australia cannot read well. This shocking statistic in a recent report from the Grattan Institute shows how students who struggle with reading are more likely to end up in poorly paid jobs or even unemployed. 

“Australia needs a reading revolution,” Dr Hunter of the Grattan Institute said. “We need to transform the way we teach reading in school so that every child gets their best chance in life.” 

It’s why Dr Denise Meyerson developed the Build-a-Book Series: to develop a love of reading by engaging actively in the story. Children re-create the storyline with bricks – by using DUPLO or LEGO type bricks as manipulatives they gain listening and comprehension skills. 

It's reading materials such as these that help children build so many skills including phonemic awareness, grammatical knowledge, exposure to different kinds of texts and a wide range of other skills. 

Why is reading such an important skill? 

Reading is a fundamental skill that plays a crucial role in academic success and everyday life. In school and university, reading is essential for learning new concepts, understanding complex topics, and conducting research. 

Without the ability to read effectively, students may struggle to keep up with their coursework and achieve their academic goals. 

Furthermore, reading is also important in daily life for navigating the world around us and fulfilling everyday activities. Whether it's reading street signs, recipes, instruction manuals, or news articles, being able to read allows us to access valuable information that guides our decisions and actions.  

Our aim is to create a generation of fluent readers! 

Reading has many cognitive benefits beyond just acquiring knowledge. It helps improve language skills by exposing children to new vocabulary and enhancing their understanding of grammar and syntax. 

The goal of reading is ultimately to reach the point of independent reading as well as a high level of reading fluency.  

Reading also stimulates the imagination and creativity by immersing readers in different worlds through fiction stories or expanding their perspective on real-world issues through non-fiction texts. Additionally, reading can foster social skills as it encourages empathy, critical thinking, and communication skills when discussing ideas with others. 

Overall, reading is a crucial skill that not only broadens our knowledge base but also enhances our cognitive abilities and interpersonal connections. 

It’s a way of integrating various proven strategies to encourage reading: being active participants in the story increases focus and attention. It’s true: hands-on learning shifts the reading experience from passive listening to active imagination and creation. It encourages children to navigate the text with greater understanding and confidence. 

What are ways to improve reading skills at home? 

To support the development of reading skills and comprehension as highlighted by the need for a "reading revolution" , these strategies complement the Build-a-Book Series. 

These include: 

  1. Reading Aloud: Encouraging children to read aloud can help with word recognition and understanding the flow of language​​.  It helps develop an average reader into a fluent reader. 
  2. Regular Reading Routine: Establishing a habit of reading can improve fluency and comprehension over time​​.  Even if you start with picture books, you will eventually progress to reading for meaning, knowledge and sentence structure. 
  3. Interactive Questions: Asking questions about the text helps with engagement and understanding​​.  It helps children become familiar with a wide range of different texts - which in turn in the long run also improves writing skills. 
  4. Making Connections: Encouraging children to relate the story to their own experiences can deepen understanding​​.  This helps children bring meaning to what they read and a greater awareness of storylines. 
  5. Visualizing the Story: Similar to the Build-a-Book concept, imagining scenes and characters can enhance comprehension​​ and help children create relationships between various themes. 

How does Build-a-Book support reading skills? 

The Build-a-Book Series not only promotes reading through an innovative method but also aligns with proven strategies to improve reading comprehension and enjoyment. By combining these approaches, children can develop a stronger foundation in reading skills, crucial for their academic and personal growth. 

Our approach to enhancing reading skills and comprehension through the Build-a-Book Series is well-conceived and incorporates essential strategies that are supported by educational research. To further refine and support your initiative, consider the following additional strategies and insights from the provided search results: 

  1. Monitoring Comprehension: Teach children to be aware of their understanding as they read, encouraging them to re-read or ask questions when they encounter confusion.  You might also try giving some explicit instructions. 
  2. Metacognition: Encourage children to think about their thinking process while reading. This can involve discussing what strategies worked best for understanding the text and which ones did not. 
  3. Graphic and Semantic Organizers: Use tools like story maps or diagrams to help children organize and visualize the information they read. This can be especially effective in the Build-a-Book Series, as it allows for a creative, interactive element in the reading process. 
  4. Answering and Generating Questions: Beyond interactive questions, teach children to formulate their own questions about the text. This practice encourages deeper engagement and critical thinking about the material.

More about Build-a-Book: 

The Build-a-Book Series currently includes three engaging titles: "Cracker, the Lonely Crocodile"; "Kito, The Bravest Kitten"; and "Diggy, The Helpful Dog", with "Dimples, The Littlest Dinosaur" set to join the collection soon. 

Each story is woven with themes of friendship, cooperation, and kindness, simultaneously nurturing children's social-emotional growth and reading skills. 

Books are available individually or as part of a comprehensive kit that includes the required bricks to re-create the stories. These books offer a unique approach to reading that prioritises fun and interactive learning over screen time. 

Build-a-Book transforms reading from being a daunting task into an accessible, enjoyable activity. With the inclusion of rhyming instructions young reader also start to see patterns in words as part of their speech development. 

More about the author: 

Dr Denise Meyerson, with a PhD in Comparative Literature and over three decades in education, stands at the forefront of innovative teaching methods. As one of the pioneering master trainers in the LEGO Serious Play methodology and an expert in the Six Bricks technique, supported by the LEGO Foundation, Dr. Meyerson is committed to enhancing children's learning experiences and executive function skills.