Clunes Booktown Festival Top 10

Why? by Lila Prap

Lila Prap’s hilarious ‘Why?’ suggests why animals look and behave the way they do.

Here are the top selling Wilkins Farago books at last weekend’s Clunes Booktown Festival:

  1. Why? by Lila Prap
  2. Sam and His Dad by Serge Bloch
  3. Waiting for Mummy by Tae-Jun Lee and Dong-Sung Kim
  4. 3 Wishes for Pugman by Sebastian Meschenmoser
  5. Kampung Boy by Lat
  6. Teaching Kids to Read by Fay Tran
  7. I Love Kissing You by Davide Cali and Serge  Bloch
  8. The Bear with the Sword by Davide Cali and Gianluca Foli
  9. What is this thing called love? by Davide Cali and Anna Laura Cantone
  10. The Enemy by Davide Cali and Serge Bloch


Wilkins Farago a Partner of the National Year of Reading 2012

We are very excited to announce that Wilkins Farago is now an official Partner of the National Year of Reading 2012.

The campaign was established by Australian libraries and library associations to turn 2012 into the National Year of Reading. They intend to link together all the great things that are already happening around books, reading and literacy, and give them an extra boost, with inspirational programs and events taking place across the country.

The Campaign Manifesto:

Nearly half the population struggles without the literacy skills to meet the most basic demands of everyday life and work. There are 46% of Australians who can’t read newspapers; follow a recipe; make sense of timetables, or understand the instructions on a medicine bottle.

Libraries will be partnering with government, the media, writers, schools, publishers, booksellers, employers, child care providers, health professionals and a whole host of other organisations that share our passion for reading.

We are proud to support the campaign and strongly feel that literacy is one of the most important gifts we can give our kids.

Wilkins Farago have also published  Fay Tran’s book, Teaching Kids to Read, which focuses on teaching through the simple, effective and proven method of phonics.

National Year of Reading events already taking place include the Inaugural Story Exhibition at Gasworks Arts Park opening on Saturday 19th of November, which we’re sponsoring. There will also be a national touring exhibition of Alison Lester’s delightful illustrations from her book Are We There Yet? as well as arts festivals, national book groups, writing competitions and lots more! Visit the NYR events calendar for more details.

Revisit our blog to learn about Wilkins Farago’s own National Year of Reading projects in the coming months.

Guest post: It’s time to save our children from reading failure

Fay Tran receives the 2011 Bruce Wicking Award for her contribution to the field of children’s learning difficulties

Dr. Louise Mercer presents Fay Tran (right) with the 2011 Bruce Wicking Award for her contribution to the field of children’s learning difficulties

Last month, Fay Tran, author of Teaching Kids to read: basic skills for Australian and NZ parents and teachers, gave a passionate speech outlining the failure of Australian schools to teach basic literacy. Here’s an edited version of that speech, delivered on the occasion of her receiving Learning Difficulties Australia’s 2011 Bruce Wicking Award in recognition of Fay’s contribution to the field of children’s learning difficulties.

BEFORE THE mid-1980s, reading was taught by a balanced combination of phonics and whole word methods … This was before the age of computers and interactive white boards, so teachers used flashcards and the blackboard to teach decoding skills and build fluency and comprehension. For reading lessons the class was usually divided into three groups, so that children were taught at their individual level. The teacher also aimed to hear every child read from their graded reader every day.

And then Whole Language arrived, like a new religion that everyone had to follow … From 1985, all student teachers were taught the Whole Language method exclusively for teaching literacy, and all education lecturers were expected to be committed to the method.

 I simply do not understand why every primary school cannot teach every child to read and spell to a functional level in the seven years of attendance.

Initially called ‘The Psycholinguistic Approach’, Whole Language is based on the belief that children can learn literacy skills the same way that they learn language, through plenty of exposure to, and interaction with text.  Teachers are expected to work as facilitators rather than instructors and direct instruction of phonics and decoding skills is banned, as are controlled vocabulary readers. Children are encouraged to guess words from context, rather than use phonics skills to decode them, correction of errors is minimal and predictive text readers with supportive illustrations are used to make the guessing easier.

Teaching Kids to Read

'Teaching Kids to Read' has made an immediate impact in the nation's classrooms

At the time I was fortunate to be working as a learning support teacher in a school that bucked the trend and continued to teach phonics for both reading and spelling.  Knowing that children really needed direct instruction of phonics to develop reading skills, I thought reason would soon prevail and there would be a general return to the proven method, but here we are, more than 20 years later and the return to sanity has only just begun. For all of that time only half of my work involved the support of children at risk of reading or spelling failure because of learning difficulties.  The other half was rescuing children who came from other schools with already established reading failure.

Only half of my work involved the support of children at risk of reading or spelling failure because of learning difficulties.  The other half was rescuing children who came from other schools with already established reading failure.

Without exception, regardless of underlying learning difficulties, these children responded to direct instruction and practice in phonics skills and spelling rules, starting right from the basic level. Reminding a child to sound out a new word rather than guess from context is a very simple way of making a huge difference to the development of their reading and spelling. While it was very rewarding to put these children back on track and know that their futures would no longer be limited by illiteracy, I became increasingly concerned that what was happening at our school was quite unusual and that thousands of children across the country were being deprived of the opportunity to develop literacy skills.

I know I was not alone in these concerns. I attended almost every SPELD and AREA or LDA conference in Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane and every one reinforced my beliefs that the way I was teaching was the most effective and efficient way to ensure every child developed essential literacy skills, but somehow outside these organisations, a few schools and some private tutors, the rest of the world stayed in denial.

Let’s not beat about the bush here. Functional literacy is absolutely essential in today’s society and without it, people are at serious risk of a dismal future. If you don’t believe me, ask a social worker.

The problem is that children who don’t develop efficient literacy skills at school are not just disadvantaged but are seriously traumatized and often damaged for life, and this starts very early on. Let’s not beat about the bush here. Functional literacy is absolutely essential in today’s society and without it, people are at serious risk of a dismal future. If you don’t believe me, ask a social worker. Continue reading

Author Fay Tran wins prestigious literacy award

Fay Tran

Geelong-based author of Teaching Kids to Read, Fay Tran, is to be awarded the prestigious 2011 Bruce Wicking Award in recognition of her contribution to the field of children’s learning difficulties.

The award, which will be presented on 15 October, is made by Learning Difficulties Australia.

In its citation for the award, Learning Difficulties Australia has this to say about Fay and her work:

Fay Tran is an LDA Consultant and was Learning Support Teacher at Geelong Grammar from 1984 to 2010.  She is a qualified primary teacher and teacher librarian, and also has a Bachelor in Special Education from Flinders University. In 2010, she published a book, Teaching Kids to Read, based on her experiences in supporting children with learning difficulties at Geelong Grammar. This was during a period when the whole language approach to the teaching of literacy came to dominate teaching of reading in the primary grades, and Fay was one of the few teachers … who resisted pressures to abandon the phonics approach to the teaching of initial reading, and was successful in ensuring that direct teaching of phonics was maintained …  As noted by Peter Westwood in his Foreword to Fay Tran’s book, her approach to teaching reflects a thorough understanding of how children learn, the particular needs of children with learning difficulties, the importance of explicit instruction, practice and the opportunity to apply new learning in achieving mastery, and the need for ongoing monitoring and assessment.  In documenting these strategies in her book, Fay has provided an important resource for teachers and parents, described by one grateful parent as ‘by far the most inspiring, practical and informative book I found.’

The Bruce Wicking Award will be presented to Fay Tran at the Awards Presentation following the LDA AGM on 15 October, in recognition of her commitment to effective teaching practice based on sound evidence, and her willingness to stand up to opposition in support of her principles.

Published late last year, Tran’s Teaching Kids to Read is the culmination of a lifetime’s work helping children with reading and learning difficulties. The book strongly argues for the use of the phonics, the literacy teaching method now firmly embedded in Australia’s new National Curriculum. The book has been widely praised since publication and has recently reprinted.

Congratulations, Fay! You can read her explanation of why she wrote her book here.

What parents can do to help their kids read

With the school year coming to an end, a lot of parents may well be wondering what their children have learned this year.

For those concerned about their child’s progress in reading and spelling, Wilkins Farago author and literacy specialist Fay Tran has written a short piece for parenting and education website

She lists the things parents can do to help with their child’s literacy. It doesn’t have to be hard work, either, as she reassures us:

Learning phonics skills is not very different from the way children learn football, tennis or piano skills and parents can help their children learn and practice reading skills just as they do with sport or music.

You can read the full article here. There’s also a competition to win a copy of her new book, Teaching Kids to Read. But hurry, the closing date is 26 November.

Education Today admires ‘Teaching Kids to Read’

Teaching Kids to Read

A very positive review of Fay Tran’s Teaching Kids to Read in Education Today, the magazine for educational professionals. Here’s a brief extract:

The book’s strength lies not in its spruiking of phonics but in the addressing of the entire literacy problem, ways forward and in its encouragement of deeper investigation and care on a kid-by-kid basis … Moreover, Tran’s is a message of sensitivity and positivity, which also can never be over emphasised.

You can read the full review here.

Teaching Kids to Read – an extraordinary guide


Teaching Kids to Read

Written in a clear, approachable, intelligent voice.


Fay Tran‘s Teaching Kids to Read reviewed on Kids’ Book Review

“Written in a clear, approachable, intelligent voice with an obvious passion for helping children achieve their very best, this book is a wonderful resource”

Read the full review here.