Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa Go to Te Ao Hou homepage
No. 45 (December 1963)
– 53 –


Is Your Child
Always Reading?

Why do people think reading ing is a waste of time? I have heard lots of mothers and fathers say things like this—

She does nothing—just sits around and reads.

I have to hide books from him or he'd read all the time.

Why does he waste money on books? He's mad about them.

Of course not all children like reading but many children, especially when they are about 12 to 14 years old, seem mad about books.

I am writing this for families that have a boy or girl who is mad about books.

This is What You Should Do

You should be happy and help your child as much as you can, because reading is important.

Do not think your child is wasting his time by reading books. You send your children to school not only because it is the law but also because you know it will help them. They must learn not only to read and write but also how to think, work and do things with other people. They must learn these things if they are one day going to be happy and useful adults. And reading books is one of the best ways of learning them.

If your boy liked to play football you would show him how to run and to catch and kick a ball and if you did not know these things you would ask somebody else to teach him. You would be surprised if he was then immediately good enough for the All Blacks, wouldn't you? He would have to train and spend years practising all these things.

Now reading needs practice too. Children learn how to read at school, just as a boy has to be shown how to drop kick a football. Boys play football for fun but they are learning new tricks and improve at the same time. Boys and girls also read books because they like stories but at the same time they are learning new words and ideas and getting more used to ones they know. That's why reading is not a waste of time. It is fun but it is also a very good way of learning.

I think some parents do not like this. I just said children learn new ideas from books and this is something that many grown-ups do not like. Adults do not always like their children to know more than they do. Quite a few Maoris I know are frightened their children will laugh at them for not knowing things they know. Or perhaps these grown-ups are unhappy if their children learn new ways, different from their ones. Of course, many Pakeha parents are like this too. They are ashamed of what they do not know.

This is a bad way of thinking. It is quite common for a child to know more about cars, or machines, etc., than his mother or father. Do not be worried about this. If you cannot answer your boy's questions tell him to ask his teacher, or better still, get him to look it up for himself in a book. He can look in the school library or ask at a public library if there is one near where you live.

I said at the beginning that you should be pleased that your child likes reading books. I also said you should encourage your girl or boy to read. Here are some things to do.


Give him spare time to read. He should help with work about the place like everybody else but let him keep a special time just for reading. Try to give him an hour a day when he will be able to read without being interrupted to do jobs or go messages.


Encourage him to borrow books from the school or public library. He will probably know about these but he can ask his teacher about them.


Help him to keep his books tidy. If he borrows books from school or a library he will want to keep them clean and neat. It is best if he has a special cupboard for his books out of reach of little brothers and sisters who might ruin them. Tell him how to make paper covers to put over books he has borrowed.


Buy him books for birthdays or Christmas. If he likes reading they are the best presents.

Here are some books which you could ask

– 54 –

your children if they have read. They are very good and do not cost very much.

Big Red by K. J. Kjelgaard

A story about a boy in America who trains his own gun-dog.

He Went With Magellan by L. A. Kent

A boy sails in the first trip around the world.

Animal Kingdom by Renee Guillot

A collection of stories about African animals with beautiful pictures.

Prelude by C. H. Abrahall

A true story about a girl from the back-blocks of Tasmania who becomes a world-famous pianist.

Cue for Treason by Geoffrey Trease

A spy story about a boy and girl in London in the time of Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth.

Here are five Puffin books. These are paperbacks you can buy or order from any big bookshop. They cost only a few shillings each.

Man Shy by Frank D. Davidson

A story of a heifer that runs wild on an Australian station.

White Riders by Monica Edwards

Children dress up themselves and their horses as ghosts to frighten away people who want to make their beach a holiday camp.

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

A famous children's book about an English family who go sailing and camping.

Smoky the Cowhorse by Will James

The life story of a horse. Told with a lot of cowboy words—this makes it more difficult.

The Young Detectives by R. J. McGregor

A story about criminals and children on an English sea-coast.

These books are best suited to boys and girls in Forms 1 and 2. I will tell you about books for other ages another time.


The first Maori minister of religion to work in Indonesia has been appointed by the National Council of Churches in New Zealand. He is the Rev. Lane Tauroa, of Te Kuiti, who is expected to leave for Java with his wife and two young children early in December.