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WATCH: New initiative launched to promote reading in young Laois children

A new initiative to promote reading among young children in Laois has been launched.

‘Talking Buddies’, funded by Sláintecare, has been set up to promote language development in communities in Laois to encourage everyone to get reading aloud to young children aged 0-5.

Talking Buddies want to encourage parents and anyone in a child’s life to read books together everyday.

The evidence shows that sharing a book everyday greatly improves a child’s vocabulary.

Not only will your child learn new words through books, but also it is a great opportunity for bonding. This initiative was launched today to coincide with National Reads Day.

Talking Buddies ran a very successful book drive campaign in Laois and Offaly and collected over 550 books and they are still rolling in.

They plan to gift these books to children in communities, and also want to support families and other people in a child’s life to use books in ways that gets the most out of them.

Talking Buddies have made links with various community groups in need in Laois and Offaly. An element of the gifting process is offering support and training to these communities about the great benefits that books offer for language development.

Timahoe native Katie Walsh, a Speech & Language Therapist in St Fintan’s in Portlaoise, said: “As a result of COVID-19, Talking Buddies have not been able to meet with communities yet.

“We hope to meet with preschools, community groups and parents in Laois and Offaly to implement our Talking Buddies Programme as soon as it is safe to do so.

“Talking Buddies Programme is an extension of our video material. It offers more indepth education and training about using books to develop language.”

The Talking Buddies programme offers parents timely access to education and training resources about using books to develop language.

Maria Bracken, Speech & Language Therapist said: “Many of the referrals for Speech & Language Therapy for children aged 0-5 are for children with delayed language development.

“While, we currently run training programmes for parents of these children, we felt that if parents had accessible public health education earlier it would greatly reduce the number of referrals into our service and thereby reduce Speech and Language Therapy waiting lists.

“With the Talking Buddies programme we have created a series of short education and training videos about how best to share books with your child.

“The first series of videos will include information on; the benefits of books, reading to babies, learning new words and book recommendations.”

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.