A CHILD who reads will be an adult who thinks, but for a lot of children, curling up with a good book doesn't come easily. Dr Jennifer Buckingham, who grew up in Raymond Terrace, has made it her mission to help them start a new chapter. The Newcastle resident has been awarded a King's Birthday Honour for her tireless work in educational research and literacy, making sure the tools teachers use in the classroom are backed by scientific evidence. "I realised that a lot of the problems I could see in education came back to literacy, whether or not kids learned to read in their early years was a great predictor in how well they did in school and post-school life," she said. "I did a PhD project and found an enormous amount of evidence about how kids learn to read and read effectively, but that's not what teachers were using. "Thousands of kids every year leave school with difficulties reading and in a very large majority of cases that's unnecessary if they receive good instruction." In other news: Dr Buckingham is the director of strategy and senior research fellow at MultiLit, a leading provider of effective literacy instruction in Australasia. She's the founder of the Five from Five project, which gives children the five essential tools for reading in every classroom, every day. She believes it should start in the first year of school when kids are about five years old. Having grown up in Raymond Terrace, she returned to the local primary school to trial a reading program with kids who had difficulties. Illiteracy is still a big problem, she said, and plenty of adults still struggle with basic reading tasks that affect their everyday life and their ability to get a job. "It creates difficulties that go beyond just struggles with reading, it affects their mental health and self-esteem, their ability to earn an income and do a lot of the things we take for granted like filling in forms or using the internet," Dr Buckingham said. "It just has such a profound impact on people's lives, we all go to school, we spent a large part of our lives at school and it's dreadful that after 13 or so years you can leave without that most basic and fundamental ability." Reading is something that came easily to her, and she was intrigued to learn why it was difficult for others - looking at the neuroscience and cognitive processes that impact a person's ability to read. Dr Buckingham also sits on boards for the Centre for Independent Studies and the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership and has made great contributions to education. She said she was thrilled to have been nominated for a King's Birthday Honour. "I'm very flattered that someone thought to nominate me, anyone who receives an honour like this realises there are so many other people who deserve to be honoured as well," she said. Dr Buckingham recently returned from a two-month literacy policy and practice study tour in the UK.