According to the latest research, poor children – especially boys – are falling behind in reading and writing, which is stunting their progress at school and harming their life prospects.
The report from the “Read On, Get On” campaign says that 4 out of 10 of England’s poorest boys start school without the language skills needed to learn. So what are we doing to bring enrichment, excitement and a love of reading into our classrooms?
My plea is that children, rather than being swamped with ‘literacy’, phonic exercises and spelling tests, should be engaged, enthused and inspired by stories, wow facts, the excitement of language and be allowed to fire their imaginations like never before. This is hardly rocket science, but only by exposing children to the power of books via inspirational storytelling and fascinating information, can we expect the reading bug to be caught. Yes, infection by inspiration was once the norm – so where has it gone?
If education is losing the importance of play, creativity and nurturing imaginations (as I fear it is), we not only risk a decline in reading standards but also hasten the narrowing of minds. At a time when we fear radicalisation and fundamentalism, isn’t it even more necessary to open minds, develop empathy and foster tolerance? Surprise, surprise… books have a considerable track record of doing just that. I dare to suggest a well-read, broadminded and empathetic terrorist is something of a contradiction in terms (or, for any literacy fundamentalist watching, let’s call it an oxymoron and tick another box of prescribed terms covered).
Did you know?
There is strong evidence that reading for pleasure can increase empathy, improve relationships with others, reduce the symptoms of depression and the risk of dementia, and improve wellbeing throughout life, new research carried out for The Reading Agency has found. For more on this, click HERE. I told you READING MATTERS!