Children’s Book Week: Born to Read

Born to Read: help make sure a love of reading is offered to every child

GG loves to read. She loves to read so much that it has frequently got her into trouble; sneaking illicitly indoors at break time to hide in the library; disappearing on play-dates to raid her companion’s bookshelf; and countless fairy-light reading episodes where she has been threatened with blindness to make her consent to sleeping. I took these video clips over the course of 24 hours last week:

Born to read

It is fair to say that life would be miserable for my daughter if she couldn’t read. Life would be a lot less pleasant for her family too, as we attempted to keep her energetic mind busy all day, and wind it down before bedtime. So I am nonplussed about how on earth families cope, when when their children cannot read.

Save the Children have today released Too Young to Fail, a report which claims that children who have below average reading skills at the age of 7 are significantly less likely to achieve 5 good GCSE grades at 16, affecting their life outcomes dramatically. Unsurprisingly it is the UK’s poorest children who are most likely to fall into this category. With families spending all their time working to earn enough to survive, or unable to afford a home full of books for their children, schools just don’t have the resource to enrich these children’s reading experiences enough to compensate.

Save the Children want to change the focus put on nurturing this basic educational skill to help not only the children concerned, but the UK economy through the future earnings potential of all our children. The need to act is put into sharp relief when you read these facts:

  • Last year 1 in 4 children left primary schools without the basic reading and writing skills needed to continue a successful education.
  • By the age of 7 nearly 80% of the difference between the GCSE results of poor and rich children is already established.
  • The first 2 years at school are key in levelling out this difference in reading achievment.
  • Fewer than one in six children from low-income families who have fallen behind by the age of seven will go on to achieve five good GCSEs, including English and maths.

So through no fault of their own, children as young as seven are on course for poorer life chance before they have even started. Save the Children want to change this outcome. Today they launch Born to Read, in partnership with Beanstalk, a programme which will see thousands of volunteers reading with 23,000 children in primary schools, to help foster a love of reading that will change lives. They are also expanding their hugely successful FAST parenting programme to help more families in deprived areas change outcomes for their children.

How you can help change the story:

By signing up to be a ‘change maker’, you can help change the story for these children, and for our society as a whole. Depending on your time and what kind of support you feel best equipped to give you could –

  • Volunteer – by reading in local schools with children who are struggling, to help them catch up.
  • Campaign – help Save the Children to gain commitments from all political parties before the 2015 election to back this initiative and improve educational support for under-achieving children.
  • Fundraising – help with ongoing initiatives to fund this change for our children, and for the future of the UK economy.

Please join me and sign up to be a change maker so that one day all children can feel like this:

If you blog, or have a Facebook account, you can also help by posting a photo of  your child with a favourite book? Use the #EducationMatters on Twitter, or tag Save the Children UK on Facebook in your post so they can share your support. Or use the sharing buttons below to share this post with friends and family on Facebook or email. The more people who see this post, the more chance we have of signing up change makers and changing our futures.

Thank you…

23 thoughts on “Children’s Book Week: Born to Read”

  1. Excellent post Helen! Your daughter is a star! Thanks so much for posting about this hugely important campaign, I’m sure MANY people will want to put their weight behind it. x

  2. I’ve got a couple of kiddies just like that! Love those videos! In fact today I couldn’t help reading juicy tidbits about Henry VII from a free Horrible History book I had picked up from the school on the walk home! It’s tricky to read and walk!

  3. Those stats are scary, but as a teacher I already know that my 5 year old can read better than some 11 year olds I taught and my son is only average for his age.

  4. What a fabulous post and a fantastic idea. I shall be sharing this with Grace this afternoon after I have been to listen to her read at 3pm – her school encourages parents to come in every Tuesday to hear their children read 🙂

  5. wow, shocking stats! I’ve just become aware of reading for pre-schoolers as Andrew starts to read letters and is very interested in books. Great post, thank you

  6. Such an important initiative, and a great post. Reading really does have the power to transform lives. Just look at GG – she’d be an entirely different person without it. It’s sad that so many youngsters find themselves in that position.

  7. Brilliant post. I love reading and can do it almost everywhere, but reading while walking is something I’ve never mastered 😉

  8. What a fantastic post as always. My son (aged 10) has offered to give up his lunch times at school to listen to a boy read because his parents are unable to make the time to do it at home.

  9. I cannot imagine my life without books, another great STC campaign! Have shared and will be attempting to blog about this too!

  10. What a great post, and such an important campaign! I think you would get on v. well with my 8 year old – last year her teacher used to call her Matilda after Roald Dahl’s character because she reads so much! 🙂

  11. Roo is very into her reading too, taking part in the accelerated reading program at school has ignited this even more for her. We are of course lucky that our child have the opportunity to pick up a book and read, we need to do more so that all children have that same opportunity.

  12. All of my three love to read (or at least try to, they’re all under the age of 5) and I think it is such an important thing for all children to learn, regardless of their backgrounds. Having been brought up from a fairly poor background, with no spare money and limited luxuries, reading was my escapism. With a good book, the limits are endless and the possibility vast.

    • Isn’t that the truth – my Mum had very little growing up in the war, but she always said she escaped with either a dog or a good book – we could all do with living life like that more often 🙂

  13. This is such an important issue and I was really shocked by the stats that you mentioned. I’ve just signed up to be a ‘change maker’.

  14. What a fantastic post and a brilliant initiative. The statistics are shocking. Hard to imagine children leaving primary school without the basic skills. POD’s been read to since she was a baby, she absolutely loves books as a result. Great skills from GG and Bug – I don’t like the wardrobe door open either 🙂

  15. Brilliant post, thank you! My daughter has walked into lamp posts before now and I *may* have done the same! So pleased you have put your voice to this campaign, it’s so important x


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