Children discover the world of books

23:00, Jan 21 2014
Hannah Fail books
BOOKWORM: Hannah Fail has noticed a lot of changes since taking part in Palmerston North City Library's Summer Reading Programme, including a new favourite genre, girls' adventure.

English may be her second language, but this hasn't stopped bookworm Hanna Fail from exploring the library this summer.

The Cornerstone Christian School pupil was one of hundreds of children to graduate from the Palmerston North City Library's Summer Reading Programme this year.

The free programme runs for six weeks during the summer holidays, with children who register reading books and then "reporting in" for a one-on-one session with librarians on a weekly basis.

Hanna signed up for the programme as an opportunity to improve her reading and understanding of English before hitting the classroom this year.

The German-born student moved to Palmerston North with her family 14 months ago from Schwabmunchen, Bavaria, in Germany, an hour's drive from Munich.

Her parents, Lesley and Steve Fail, are from New Zealand but a week after their honeymoon - now 21 years ago - they uprooted overseas.


With no immediate plans to move home, the family integrated themselves into German culture, meaning the upbringing for Hanna, and her brother Josh, 12, was all German, including schooling, friends, and their favourite TV shows.

But after a job offer opened for Hanna's father as a pastor at Palmerston North's Crossroads Church, the Fail family shifted back to New Zealand.

The move resulted in a more formal learning of the English language than just Skyping the Kiwi grandparents.

Since starting the programme, Hanna's reading comprehension has blossomed, with her use and understanding of the English vocabulary doubling.

"I notice it's a lot easier to read and speak English more clearly now," Hanna said.

English had more hidden vowels and silent letters than the German language and learning not to pronounce every syllable was a change, she said.

"Since doing the reading programme we've seen a huge change in her language. It's really been the catalyst and the huge step we've been waiting for," Mrs Fail said. "It's kind of like an emotional switch, where the brain is going ‘right, I want to be a Kiwi from now on'.

"What I really liked is I didn't have to nag her to read. It was a decision she made herself."

More than 300 children took part in the programme this summer, with another 30 places in the library's Ashhurst programme and 40 children on the te reo programme, Palmerston North City Library children's educator Rhonda Chenery said.

Manawatu Standard