Play essential in early literacy

12 August 2013

The State Library of Victoria’s Reader Development program is helping families to understand how play is a powerful element for fostering early literacy in children.

Over the past four years the State Library of Victoria has run Storytime and Baby Bounce programs for very young readers and their families. The programs use performance, song and play in combination with reading to create an exciting and interactive storytelling environment for children. 

Anna Burkey, the State Library’s Reader Development manager, says there is solid research to back this approach to early literacy.  

‘There is an abundance of research now linking frequent playful and interactive reading with significant improvements in early literacy. This year a study by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research demonstrated that children read to six to seven times a week had a literacy level almost a year ahead of children who are not read to at home. Meanwhile the Australian Government’s Early Years Learning Framework describes play as ‘… the best vehicle for young children’s learning providing the most appropriate stimulus for brain development.’

It seems anytime the correlation between play and learning is examined the results are the same – play helps children learn.’

The State Library programs demonstrate to parents the types of activities that are effective in linking play and literacy.

‘It can’t be assumed that parents instinctively know good methods of educational play. We provide a toolkit of ideas that parents can observe in action so they can use them again at home and that’s where the real learning happens.’

On Wednesday 14 August the State Library will host a special Storytime with best-selling children’s author Jeannette Rowe as part of Play Group Victoria’s state-wide library playgroup week.  Children and their parents will meet some of Rowe’s favourite book characters and see for the first time the author’s range of interactive iPad apps designed to help children learn through play.

Baby Bounce sessions (for children 0-2 years) are held at the State Library Wednesdays between 10.30-11am while Storytime for pre-schoolers (children 2-5 years) is held Wednesdays between 11.30am-12.30pm. Bookings are not required. Details:

More information about library playgroup week is available at:

Media inquiries:

Matthew van Hasselt or Georgina Smart, State Library of Victoria 03 8664 7263,