Findings by Save The Children have discovered that illiteracy is a significant problem amongst the UK’s schoolchildren, with disadvantged children at most risk of being unable to read well by the time they leave primary school. Nearly half of all children from poorer backgrounds cannot read and understand books, newspapers and websites at age 11, and are the equivalent of seven years schooling behind stronger readers. The report also found that England is one of the most unequal countries for levels of reading attainment amongst children in the EU, coming second only to Romania.
To go some way to tackling this crisis, Save The Children are spearheading the Read On, Get On campaign to ensure that all children are able to read well and confidently when they leave primary school. The campaign is being supported by charities, publishers and educational organisations including the National Literacy Trust, Harper Collins and the National Association of Head Teachers, as well as public figures, celebrities and authors including Sir John Major, Michael Morpurgo and Helen Fielding, emphasising the importance of reading to social mobility and the future prosperity of the nation. We’re pleased that our home of Liverpool is setting the trend when it comes to getting children of all ages reading, and even more proud that City of Readers – a city-wide initative to encourage children and young people to read more, as well as everyone else – is supporting the Read On, Get On campaign, which pledges to unlock every child’s potential in life through reading, and reading well. You can add your support here: http://www.readongeton.org.uk/petition
The Reader Organsation has been working closely with City of Readers, a campaign for Liverpool Learning Partnership which aims to transform Liverpool into the UK’s foremost reading city, and specifically to develop a generation of young readers who will take the power of great books into the future. Taking Liverpool as an example, City of Readers is part of the nationwide drive to ensure that the chances of children everywhere are improved by increased and deeper engagement with reading.
City of Readers is partly a response to a report by Liverpool Education Commission which aims to raise standards in schools and narrow the attainment gap between different groups of children in the city, but also encourage and enthuse the future generation to read more for the pleasure of doing so. Children who read for pleasure not only think more creatively, but also make more progress in school subjects including maths, vocabulary and spelling, according to a study by the Institute of Education.
Not only is City of Readers working with schools on a range of projects designed to especially to improve the reading of children, there are also many ways in which parents, carers and families can be involved to make reading a part of every child’s life – we know that reading in the home is a crucial way of improving reading skills. Frank Cottrell Boyce is writing an exclusive online serial as part of ‘Give Us 5’ for City of Readers – a marvellous mystery for the whole family to enjoy – and there’ll be much more happening to promote reading in Liverpool for children and everyone as the project progresses.
We’re really glad to see the issue of reading amongst children and young people is being raised on a vast public scale, and happy that Liverpool is setting the agenda for the rest of the country.
You can learn more about the Read On, Get On campaign and sign the petition to ensure every child born this year will be able to read well by 2025 here: http://www.readongeton.org.uk/petition