New books to elevate science and reading for beginners

Professor Richard John with QCA alumnus and book illustrator Gemma Duffill

Helping parents improve their children’s reading in a fun way, while engaging them with the world of science, is the impetus behind Griffith’s launch of a new educational book series.

Launched in early February theSuzie the Scientisthome-reader series is a new take on home-readers linking reading development directly to theAustralian Curriculum: Science.

The series has been supported by a partnership with the Southport Rotary club on the Gold Coast which has provided $5000 to purchase a full set of books for every primary school on the Gold Coast.

“The 24-book series features an engaging “cool” scientist (Suzie) who presents interesting scientific facts to engage kids and empower parents to explore and discuss scientific concepts while developing and improving reading literacies and fluency,” Professor Richard John from Griffith Sciences said.

The books are aimed at children in years Prep to Year 2 and are aligned to the three strands and four sub-strands of the Australian science curriculum.

“Learning to read is the single most important life skill that we, as parents, can pass onto our children,” says Professor John. “Unfortunately though, the home reading process can often be frustrating for both parents and kids. The nightly ritual of sitting with your child while they churn through an uninteresting and irrelevant story book is often a burden for both the child and parent, with the books often disconnected to student interests and school studies.

“With the Suzie the Scientist book series we are putting the fun back into home reading for both parent and child, as well as raising awareness and developing skills in Science, Technology and Mathematics (STeM) to allow children to thrive in the twenty-first century.

“The Suzie the Scientist home reader seriesempowers parents to do both, with each book directly aligned to what your child learns in the classroom as they progress through the early years of theAustralian Curriculum: Science.”

Professor John said that early exposure to STEM concepts will allow children to get to grips with a rapidly changing modern world of technology and the massive disruption that is currently occurring.

“Unfortunately we currently have declining numbers of students studying STEM beyond Year 10 and this is having a knock-on effect with university numbers and into industry.

“We are also slipping down international rankings in science and maths as a country. We see the Suzie the Scientist series as a grass-roots attempt to alleviate this issue, engage children from the start in these areas and empower parents to facilitate the process.”

Four books of the 24 book series were distributed to all 1400 primary schools in Queensland with the help of a philanthropic donor and we hope to eventually expand this nationally,” says Professor John.

Education Minister Grace Grace helps launch the Suzie the Scientist reader series with P&C Qld head Gayle Walters

Griffith University has partnered with Rotary International and P&Cs QLD to promote the Suzie the Scientist series across state primary schools.

Gayle Walters, President and Chair of P&Cs QLD said the organisation is excited to be involved in the launch of Suzie The Scientist.

“This is a great opportunity for parents to become involved in their child’s home reading with a book series which encompasses interesting material with a good exposure to STEM.”

President of Southport Rotary, Ms Rhonda Whitton, says she was very keen to be involved in this community partnership with Griffith. “Southport Rotary is always keen to support innovative educations programs within our local communities and we see these books as a key way of getting parents engaged in their child’s reading development in a unique and meaningful way.”