NSW is facing a crisis in early childhood literacy

Poor literacy in early childhood can create learning difficulties that last a lifetime.

Literacy is a fundamental right for all children, and early childhood literacy is critical for children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development.

But early childhood literacy rates in NSW are some of the lowest in Australia, and our children are falling further and further behind.

For our children’s futures, we need to convince the next NSW Government that they must act to address the crisis in early childhood literacy, and we need your help.

The crisis of early childhood literacy

NSW should be a national leader in early childhood literacy, but instead, NSW is one of the poorest performers.

NSW ranks 6th in Australia in reading literacy, behind the ACT, Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

NSW has fallen below the national reading average for Australia.

Over 20% of preschool-aged children in NSW are developmentally vulnerable.

Read the full independent report on the NSW crisis in early childhood literacy here.

The role NSW Public Libraries can play

Public libraries are trusted, safe, accessible, non-judgemental, and inclusive places that welcome everyone from across the community.

With trained staff and well-established facilities delivered by local Councils across NSW, public libraries are well aligned to improving early childhood literacy.

If provided with the proper funding and support, public libraries can make a major contribution to improving early childhood literacy for every child across NSW.

What we need to fix the crisis in early childhood literacy

To address this crisis, we need the newly elected NSW government to deliver an early childhood literacy package through NSW public libraries.

We’re calling for:


A coordinated and consistent approach – for addressing early childhood literacy and evaluating successful outcomes in NSW.


Training and resources – a fund for a dedicated early childhood literacy program and training for library staff to implement it.


A public awareness program – a dedicated public awareness program to inform the public about early childhood literacy’s critical role in children’s social, emotional and cognitive development and the role that caregivers, public libraries and communities may play in improving outcomes.

Sign the petition to fix the crisis in childhood literacy

Sign the petition and join hundreds of others committed to ensuring the NSW Government delivers a better future for our children.

With your help, we can rewrite this story together.

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Read the full independent report on the NSW crisis in early childhood literacy.

To help support this campaign, add this signature block to your email.

To help support this campaign, download and print this A3 poster.

To help support this campaign, download and print this A4 flyer to distribute to your local community.

About this campaign

The ‘Birth to Five, Read and Thrive’ campaign has been organised by the NSW Public Libraries Association.

You can find out more information here.