17 December, 2007 - Less Thumbs – More Thinking urges Minister Hanafin - Ta leabhair aille as gaeilge ar fail freisin

With just a week to go to Christmas, Minister for Education and Science, Mary Hanafin T.D., is reminding Santa and all present buyers to ensure that books feature in children's Christmas stockings this year. "With all the technology around children at Christmas there are many distractions, so it is hugely important that parents ensure that their child can appreciate some of the fabulous new books that are published each year" said the Minister today.

"While technology is part and parcel of every young persons life, it is important not to overlook the lifelong gift that is given by encouraging children to read or by taking time to read stories to younger children. 

Reading is a simple, inexpensive and pleasurable way to improve our children's development and to enhance their prospects for a brighter future. Reading encourages a child's imagination and allows them reflect on characters, stories and events to an extent that is not possible with other media,such as television, computer games or DVD's.

I want Santa and all other present buyers to make some room in Christmas stockings for a book or two. Reading together and talking about stories gives children confidence in their abilities, so that they will see reading as fun and choose to do it in their free time. The earlier children learn to enjoy books the better their literacy skills are likely to be throughout their lives."

Minister Hanafin said it is also a fact that literacy skills are the bedrock of all the learning skills that young people need. "Having good reading literacy ensures that children and young people can engage fully in the curriculum, be it studying Science, Maths or History.Reading and understanding is the essential skill that all children must have."

Minister Hanafin went on to say "sharing a book is one of the most pleasant experiences which parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, or siblings can have with children. I believe that the key to reading is contained in the three R's - connecting the Right book with the Right child at the Right time. Quality children's books develop a child's language and thinking skills.

It's hard for a child to believe in the importance of reading if there are few books in the home, they never see their parents reading or they never visit the library. So my message is make more time for reading and less hours on the techno-toys!"