Illawarra youngsters reading beyond their age

MERCURY SERIES - Little People, Big Ideas

Annabelle King started reading Grug books at age two and by the time she entered kindergarten, was already immersed in fairy books and fantasy tales.

Holden Young, on the other hand, started school with some mathematical skills and did not read much.

But both Shellharbour Public School students have excelled during their first year of school and were selected by teachers to read at school assembly last month.

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They were reading books almost two years beyond their year and writing complex sentences with correct punctuation and paragraphing, their teachers said.

Cassandra King said her daughter, Annabelle, used to pull all the books out of the shelf and sit inside and start reading.

"Unlike other kids, for her, punishment means you take away the books," she said.

"If you can read, then the whole world opens up to you ... it's the building block of everything else you do in education.

"My husband still reads to [Annabelle and her nine-year-old brother Callum] before bed every night."

The six-year-old said she enjoyed the pictures accompanying the words in her books.

"I love reading because you can see the adventure in the books," she said.

She was looking forward to year one this year "because I'll get harder things", she said.

Holden Young was also excited about moving up a grade.

"I want to help the kindies do their work," he said. "I'll help them with everything.

"I want to help the kids not to get into trouble, I'll tell them not to go out of bounds."

The six-year-old said he enjoyed reading "because you can add expressions to it".

"Like talking in different voices," he said. "I like writing, too, because you can add special stuff to it like speech marks and commas."

His mother, Cheyenne Young, said she was worried about Holden going to school because he had never been to preschool.

"He only knew little words, I don't know what [his teacher] did but within the first term, he was reading like a pro," she said.

"It runs in the family.

"My mother and I have always had big imaginations. My mother used to win awards for her writing."

As for Holden's desire to look out for others, Mrs Young said she taught her children to treat others with respect.

"It comes from the Bible that we're always taught to love one another," she said.

"I guess he's just got that nurturing side."

The students' teachers praised their efforts in their end-of-year reports.

"Annie has proved to be a confident, independent reader," Julie O'Hara wrote of Annabelle.

"She fluently reads increasingly difficult texts with expression and self corrects predominantly based on meaning, a sure sign of well-developed comprehension skills.

"Annie's love of reading is infectious and a tribute to her success."

Holden was commended for his expressions while reading aloud.

"He is a fluent, expressive reader who has a love of literature and enjoys the challenge of reading difficult fiction and non-fiction texts," teacher Sue Munro said.

"Holden responds to punctuation and adjusts his expression to enhance meaning when reading aloud."

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