I’ve just come from Patch of Puddles where I read this post written by the wonderful Merry and I’m shocked. I just cannot believe that 1 in 8 children leave school functionally illiterate. It’s such a large number, an eighth of our population. Madness.
We grew up surrounded by books. I remember Dad reading the Narnia books to us at bedtime, Swallows and Amazons, Famous Five, endless Roald Dahl, I remember reading theLord of the Rings trilogy annually for 3 years during my teenage years and being angry that the films (although great) didn’t do them justice, discovering Harry Potter (and not bothering with the films), the Stravaganza books, Malorie Blackman, Michael Morpugo, devouring 1984, Animal Farm, We and A Brave New World and even recently my teenage sister introducing me to the Hunger Games (to our other sisters disdain for them being romantic popular dystopian wannabes!)
Now I’ve started remembering it’s hard to stop (and I’m getting excited about sharing some of these wonderful books with the kids once they’re a bit older!) but I’ll mention three more (forgive me indulging myself) and move on! Firstly, A Spoonful of Jam by Michelle Magorian is a book I just love, one of my favourites still. Jacqueline Wilson is incredible and I was obsessed with her books in my pre/early teen years and was unbelievably chuffed when she replied to my letter with a beautiful thoughtful reply. And finally, Shirley Hughes is the epitome of childhood reading for me. I get so nostalgic reading her stories to Sophia and Isaac and genuinely still enjoy them. Her words and pictures have a special place in my heart. I know that sounds a bit ridiculous but they really have had an impact on me.
When I think of children growing up struggling to read, not getting the support they need and missing out on the unique joy of curling up with a book and immersing yourself in a whole new world and story, I just feel so incredibly sad. So many stories waiting to be read and explored, so many adventures to be had. And to have that door shut.
But there’s obviously such a larger impact than just missing out on the joy of burying yourself in a book. Being able to read is key to thriving in our education and employment system. Without that skill, they will and do struggle to complete secondary and further education, to complete job application forms, to read road signs and instruction manuals and medicine bottles and a thousand other things that we read in every day life.
We take being able to read for granted and that’s ok, but only if we acknowledge that for some children, it’s harder and they need more support than is always offered. We need to help them so the world of words is available and open to them. So they’re not held back for the rest of their life.
Beanstalk is the new name for Volunteer Reading Help and is taking part in a campaign with Save the Children to change the story for the children in the UK who need extra support to open the book on reading.
I’m a bit useless at this blogging malarkey still so don’t know to embed their campaign video but you can watch it the post I linked earlier and you can go check our their campaign Born to Read to see how you can help out. So please please do go and have a look, people need to get involved to help this campaign grow and help these children unlock their futures.