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Munch Time Story Writing Competition Launched

Picture shows L-R: Isabelle Benwell, Karen Willoughby, Munch the Cow, Sarah Webb & Jessica Benwell

The Reading Association of Ireland (RAI), Irish children’s author, Sarah Webb, and children’s yogurt brand, Munch Bunch, teamed up today, to promote the importance of storytelling and shared reading, to mark the launch of Munch Bunch’s 2012 Story Writing competition, Munch Time.

Created to highlight the importance of story-telling between parent and child, and the vital role it plays in bonding and supporting a child’s holistic development, the Munch Time story writing competition is calling for budding children’s authors to get writing!

Now its second year, Munch Time is looking for aspiring writers, who are able to capture the imagination of young children, to submit original children’s stories that are between 600-800 words, and begin with the opening line: “Once upon a Munch Time, there was a cow called Munch…

Topical Research From The Reading Association Of Ireland

The impact that stories and texts, presented in print-based or e-book format, can have on the parent/caregiver and child reading experience, was among a number of topics addressed in a review of research, conducted this month, by Dr. Gerry Shiel of “Reading Association of Ireland.”

Dr. Shiel explains: “Research on young children’s emerging literacy skills has long highlighted the important role that parents and caregivers can play in supporting the development of early reading and writing skills. In a recent publication on oral language development, Ireland’s National Council for Curriculum and Assessment highlighted the importance of not only reading to young children, but also discussing what has been read with them.

“With reading now available through a variety of devices, including e-readers and computer tablets, this research investigates how various mediums impact on a child’s literacy and language development.

In his review of the global literature, Dr. Shiel notes that families can now access texts, including stories, on a broad range of devices including mobile phones, e-readers, lap-tops and computer-tablets. Dr. Shiel refers to research, just published in the United States, which looked at what happened when parents interacted with young children around stories in three formats; Traditional print-based texts, basic e-books and enhanced e-books.

The following key findings emerged:

  • Parent-child conversation. Enhanced e-books drew out fewer content-based reactions than the print books, suggesting that the enhanced e-book format was less effective than the print or basic e-book at tapping into the benefits of shared reading.
  • Story comprehension. Children who read enhanced e-books recalled significantly fewer narrative details. This finding suggests that features of the enhanced e-book may have affected children’s recall because attention is focused more on non-content issues than on story-related issues.
  • Engagement. The findings indicated that print books are more advantageous for promoting shared reading that supports literacy development, while e-books, and especially enhanced e-books, are more advantageous for engaging children and prompting physical interaction.

Reflecting on the findings of this research, Dr. Shiel recommends the following for parents and care-givers, wishing to share books with young children:

  • Use a combination of print books, basic e-books, and enhanced e-books.
  • Engage in shared reading activities such as discussion of important story content and links between the story and the child’s own experiences.
  • When enhanced e-books are used, seek to establish a balance between adult-child interactions on story meaning, and the child’s engagement with features.

Thurles born Dr. Karen Willoughby, currently President of the Reading Association of Ireland adds:

Any initiative that highlights the importance of reading to children and writing for children should be wholly applauded. If children are to experience success in literacy and develop a lifelong love for literature, it is vital that parents and caregivers engage in shared reading with children.

“By encouraging adults to write for children, the Munch Time initiative provides a unique opportunity for adults to write a story that will capture the imagination of children close to them, enabling them to experience the writing and reading process together in a most meaningful way.

Best-selling author, Sarah Webb, is adding her support to the campaign and will be on hand to judge the final entries. Sarah says:

“I’m delighted to support the Munch Bunch writing competition. Sharing bedtime stories with your children is the best way to raise kids who are mad about books. As a writer, an avid reader and a parent, I believe that reading is one of life’s great pleasures. I believe that books can enhance and transform every child’s life, and what better story to read them than one you’ve written especially? So get scribbling.

In its second year, Munch Time seeks entries from creative Mums, Dads and Grandparents, or indeed anyone who has a magical story to tell that young children will love. The only prerequisites are that the story is inspired by the loveable Munch Bunch character, Munch the Cow, begins with “Once upon a Munch Time, there was a cow called Munch…”- and is 600-800 words in length.

€1000 and a one-to-one tutorial with best-selling author, Sarah Webb, exploring how to take your story further, will be awarded to the winning entry, and two runners-up will receive a selection of signed children’s books from Sarah Webb’s back catalogue.

In 2011, Mullingar Montessori teacher, Deirdre Molloy, won the overall Munch Time competition. Commenting on her win, Deirdre reflects:

I’ve always enjoyed storytelling and as a Montessori teacher, I found that writing my own stories was an engaging way to communicate with my pupils. Since I won the Munch Time Story Writing Competition last year, my story – ‘Munch on Tour,’ – has continued to evolve. The children were so delighted with my win that they wanted to hear more about Munch so since the competition, I’ve continued to write short stories about Munch the Cow and her adventures.”

Munch Time Competition Rules

Munch Time entries close at midnight on Friday October 12th next with the winner being announced on November 12th 2012.

For further information on Munch Time, please visit www.munchtimeireland.com.

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