THE growing awareness of the importance of literacy in young children attracted more than 200 people to Ballarat last week.Ballarat City Council hosted the fourth Walking on Words early years' literacy conference at the Mercure Convention Centre, with childcare workers, teachers, parents academics and maternal and child health care nurses from across Victoria flocking to attend.Council family and children's services manager Anne Scott described it as a fabulous turnout and said Ballarat led the way with promoting awareness of literacy in young children."There's a huge interest in early-years literacy, I think it's come a long way in the last few years," she said."There's been a huge shift towards the understanding of the particular importance of the first three years."Ms Scott said the conference focused on fun ways to engage children aged from birth to eight years in literacy-based learning. Speakers at the event included media personality and children's book author Andrew Daddo and Dr Cathie Harrison, the literacy adviser to the ABC-TV program Play School."The theme was the importance of play and we believe the feedback was the most positive we have had so far," Ms Scott said.