Saturday, 22 December 2007

Help lift a likely lad's literacy

Before I head off properly, let me tell you a story. A story of a man, a very good man - a man who's doing some very good work. You might even call it a story for Christmas.

You might have heard of a chap called Graham Crawshaw who helps young boys to read: He holds what he calls Reading Adventure Camps for unreading and troubled young boys; he offers them all the adventures young boys should have, and he teaches them to read -- and these are the boys everyone else has given up on.

His two criteria for choosing boys or his camps are 1) that they can't read, and 2)that they're considered unmanageable. From this unpromising material he changes young lives.


They don't need to. Poor reading is mostly a result of poor reading teaching -- teaching using the failed 'Whole Language' method, for example. Using phonics however, Graham teaches those who've been failing at reading that it's really not hard once you "break the code -- that reading is fun, and far less difficult than they thought. Since 1995, Graham has held 69 six-day Reading Adventure Camps up at his Phonics Farm near Dargaville, teaching over 1400 children the joy and skills of reading.

Early in the New Year, on January 9th, he holds his first camp in a new location, at Windy Ridge Boys' Farm just south of Warkworth. We're heading up there in a few days to help him get it ready, and you can help as well if you'd like to.

If you feel the Christmas spirit and you want to help this good man out then you can sponsor a boy to this camp, or you can donate materials or money, or you can volunteer your services as a cook, as a reading tutor or as a cabin leader. Any help at all would be appreciated.

Said one parent after one of Graham's reading camps,
My son wasn't that keen on going to a reading camp. But the difference towards reading was amazing. He read his first novel in one week and couldn't put it down... It has been evident to me this camp is essential for all children with reading difficulties...
You can read more about Graham and his reading camps at page 11 of the digital edition of Free Radical 73 [pdf], and an interview with him in Free Radical 74, page 12 [pdf]. And of course, feel free to enjoy the rest of each magazine.

And if you're inspired enough to help in any way, you can download details and a form here [jpeg].

Enjoy your Christmas!!


  1. I'm sending him a cheque.

    We need more good men who are willing to mentor, and stand up as youth advocates. Bomber Bradbury is one such man. Also kudos to Michael Newberry - artist - from the US. His work and commentary has helped inspire one tagger from Otara.

    I hope your judgement doesn't continue to go down the Lineberry road Peter. I just can't believe that is you.

  2. Kopu nitpicker23 Dec 2007, 11:49:00

    Merry Christmas Peter

  3. Merry Xmas Peter,

    May your sack be always full and your desires always satiated.

  4. Sally O'Brien19 Feb 2009, 22:33:00

    Hi all,
    Go to
    to learn more about Grahams work with boys who are struggling with literacy.


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