Walking around with your head in a book is perhaps not the best way to avoid bumping into people on a busy school corridor, but it is certainly good to see students snatching a few moments of down time to read a book that is for pleasure and not directly related to whatever subject they have coming up next or have been instructed by a teacher to read. This is a great escape to a different world and is encouraged. This is particularly true next week in Book Week. Whilst secondary students won’t be dressing up as their favourite book character like the primary students, the core message of Book Week is just as important for our older students. Good levels of literacy, developed through lots of reading, really do matter. This is not just about doing well in English classes at school, important though that is. Research shows that good reading skills make a difference across all academic subjects and in later life. A report by the UK based National Literacy Trust called “Literacy Changes Lives” suggests that literacy affects economic well-being, aspirations, family life, health and civic/ cultural engagement. It presents what they consider overwhelming evidence that literacy has a significant relationship with a person’s happiness and success. Their website http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/ gives more details on their work to promote literacy. Similar research in the USA published by organisations such as ProLiteracy ( www.proliteracy.org )shows a clear correlation between poor literacy and deprivation, unemployment and crime and they are actively campaigning to tackle what they see as a literacy crisis the USA.
It is important that parents help their child to develop a regular reading habit, exploring different genres and learning to really enjoy a ‘good read’. The best way that we can do this as parents is to model it ourselves. Please do take the opportunity that book week provides to show your child the types of books that you enjoy and to show an active interest in their reading habits.
Those of us who were brought up before the age of the computer may or may not like using electronic reading devices, such as Kindles, but a book on a device is just as good as a book on paper, if it is being read and enjoyed. The computer games that our children seem to spend so much on may not contain much in the way of good reading, but there is a lot of good material to read on the internet. Most good magazines and newspapers have an electronic version, that may appeal to your child and get them into reading and there are sites like Flipboard and Zite which bring together articles from other sources in lots of different topics that may spark interest.
Whether it is an ‘old fashioned’ paperback or the latest electronic device, the message is that reading really does matter.