The Wonderful Work of the Pyjama Foundation

Imagine reaching the age of 13 in Australia and not having ever heard of Goldilocks or Red Riding Hood. Imagine not knowing of the Fee-fi-fo-fum of the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk or the huffing and puffing of the wolf in The Three Little Pigs. Imagine missing out on the mystery of Rapunzel’s hair or the wonder of Cinderella’s glass slipper. Sadly, this is the case of many kids who find themselves in foster care.

Disruption in their early years means they may never have experienced some of the happy childhood experiences we take for granted:

  • a parent who tells them nursery rhymes
  • bedtime stories
  • trips to the library or bookshops or museums
  • doing puzzles and playing games with the involvement of an adult
So much magic happens in the moments when books are read to a child. As children listen to fairy tales and nursery rhymes, their cache of cultural knowledge is formed, their vocabulary is developed, and their repertoire of speech patterns is enhanced. Social cues are taught and caught. The ability to attend is fostered. The presence of these things increases the chances of success at school and in relationships, and yet our most needy children miss out, setting them up to repeat the cycle of disruption.

I’m involved with a wonderful organisation called The Pyjama Foundation, which recruits, screens, and trains volunteers, aka Pyjama Angels, to deliver The Pyjama Foundation Love of Learning Program®, a literacy-based mentoring program.

The program addresses these statistics around children in care:

  • 92% of children in care are below the average reading level at age seven
  • 75% of these children do not complete schooling
  • 50% of the homeless come from a care background
  • 35% enter the juvenile justice system at some point (82% of Australian prisoners have below grade 4 level of functional literacy)
  • 28% of care-leavers are parents within 12 months of leaving care

In my role as a “Pyjama Angel,” I get to read to a child in care once a week. I look forward to this hour of reading, when I share favourite books and engage with a great kid. Sometimes, as a special treat, I take him to the library and let him pick the books. I feel good knowing that I’m making a difference in his life.

Involvement with the Pyjama Foundation is a way to support the wonderful foster parents who open their homes to vulnerable kids, and it’s an opportunity to help build a love of reading in a young person who has probably experienced significant setbacks to his or her education.

For more info, visit their website here.

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