So the day is finally upon us; it’s World Book Day.
Today I plan on sitting in bed with a fresh mug of tea and reading – yes, all day. Ok so I’ll probably need several cups of tea. But reading is what World Book Day is for, right? And that’s what Thursdays are for, right? I am a student after all.
As a child I always got excited when school handed out the little £1 book tokens in preparation for World Book Day. It probably had something to do with getting a shiny new book rather than the actual reading – but either way I looked forward to it. I also remember about the same time of year we had the Scholastic Book Fair come to visit our school. For those of you who don’t know, the Scholastic Book Fair is basically a van full of mobile bookshelves that tours schools. The bookshelves get set up in the main hall or the sports hall and one class at a time gets to go and search the shelves for new books.
I can’t stress enough how important reading is for children, and these schemes get kids in the mood for reading. I mentioned before I was more excited about my token than the actual book I got to read with it, but I always read it nonetheless. School got me reading – reading out loud, reading as part of a group – and I’m very grateful for it.
There’s been a few surveys done recently about the current levels of illiteracy in the UK and it is shocking. It is estimated that roughly one in five adults struggle with reading tasks you’d come into contact with on a daily basis, such as reading medicine leaflets and letters you’d receive in the post.
The average reading age of adults in the UK is age 9. Just to put this into perspective, the recommended reading age of The Guardian is 14 and The Sun is 8. So a scary percentage of UK adults can only just comprehend what’s printed in The Sun.
These are some scary statistics, which is why we need to nip it in the bud and target children. Early intervention can solve all these issues. If children are encouraged to read and to learn at a young age, this problem will evaporate.
Part of the issue, in my opinion, is the poor standard of Primary School education across the UK. It scares the hell out of me, to be frank, that you’d don’t need a degree to teach in a Primary School. Primary School age is when children are at their most impressionable and it is also the time when the majority of the groundwork needs to be done. If you begin Secondary School lacking the fundamental literacy and numeracy skills there is no way on earth you are going to catch up to the standard of those around you without a lot of hard work. It is for this reason that Primary School teachers need to be knowledgable not only in the key subject areas – and by this I mean England, Math, Science, History, Geography – but also in the ways children learn, and methods need to be adapted to cater for this. (I’ve listed these subjects here because I am aware that a number of Primary Schools fail to teach Humanities altogether – another worrying piece of information.)
In my opinion, the curriculum needs to be tightened, teacher training needs to be improved and there should be more schemes aim at children to get them reading. Through these methods I believe we can help to lower these scary illiteracy statistics.
So get your kid a new book. Read to them. Read with them. Help them and teach them. I can’t stress it enough. Over and out –