Sunday, 13 October 2013

Born to Read: how you can help the UK's poorest children to read

Some of my daughters' favourite books

My girls are both teenagers now, but I still keep hold of many of the books they enjoyed when they were little. Like many parents, I read books to them from a very early age and some of the hardboard books they enjoyed as toddlers are now slightly chewed and dog-eared but all the more loved because of it.

Now that they're older, they still read a lot. Tall Daughter loves to read fiction and likes to read in bed. The Teenager is less keen on fiction but enjoys biographies, although now she's studying for her A Levels her reading is mainly text books.

Sadly, not all children in the UK can enjoy reading in the same way because shockingly 1 in 4 children leave primary school without being able to read properly.

I know from my own experience working in a primary school that the children who are encouraged to read at home are usually the ones who do well in school. It makes perfect sense. If a child can read well, it unlocks their potential. Almost every other lesson at school involves some level of reading and if they can't read....well, they struggle.

The first two years of primary school are crucial in developing reading and writing skills, and most of the children who fall behind even at this early stage never catch up. By the time they reach secondary school they're already at a disadvantage which translates into lower exam results and later on, lower job prospects.

By failing behind with reading at primary age, children can be limited for the rest of their lives and crucially, are unable to pass on a love of reading to their own children, which creates a cycle of poverty that is difficult to break out of.

Save the Children are trying to break that cycle by launching their Born to Read campaign.

They want to help disadvantaged children to unlock their potential by helping them to get to grips with literacy skills in the early primary years. And what's more we can all help - read about how you can become a change maker and really make a difference to a child.

You can read about other ways you can help over on Thinly Spread.

Together we can make a difference.