Child care centres and schools across Australia will take time out from their busy schedules this morning with around half a million two to six-year olds set to enjoy the largest National Simultaneous Storytime ever.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the national event run by the Australian Library and Information Association would take place at more than 3,100 locations to help raise awareness of the importance of reading to children from a young age.

“It’s impossible to overstate the value of reading with young children and fostering their love of reading,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Statistics show that around 20 per cent of all Australian children start school with a substandard vocabulary which is why I’m so focused on encouraging greater parental engagement.

“How often an adult reads to or with a child correlates with their literacy skills down the track. That’s why I’ve long been an advocate for maximising the number of hours families and teachers spend reading with children.

“Spending just 15 minutes a day reading to your children, from the earliest days, can mean 500 hours of reading that your children have enjoyed and learnt from before they start school.”

Minister Birmingham visited Glandore Kindergarten and Child Care Centre with the local Member for Hindmarsh, Matt Williams, to lend his support to National Simultaneous Storytime.

“It’s always special reading with young children, exploring their knowledge and often amazing questions. Today was a wonderful opportunity to sit down with some of the boys and girls to read a relatively new favourite of children across the country, I Got This Hat, a book I’m sure many thousands of teachers and families will also be enjoying,” Minister Birmingham said.

“National Simultaneous Storytime is an excellent event that complements National Literacy and Numeracy Week which the Turnbull Government has backed with $225,000 each year to ensure it continues well into the future.”

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