I joined in a Twitter chat last week, in partnership with Save the Children and their Born to Read campaign. It shocked me. It upset me. It stayed with me.
I learned that ‘A fifth of 7-year-olds from poorer families are already behind in reading. Most struggle to catch up, leading to a lifetime of lower qualifications and fewer opportunities.’ And ‘Last year, a quarter of the UK’s poorest children left primary school without basic reading and writing skills’.
I cannot imagine my life, my world without words. I couldn’t begin to even guess at how many books I’ve read in my lifetime – thousands. My mind’s full of them. My world has been broadened by them. I’ve giggled in the dorms at Malory Towers, run with the animals through Farthing Wood, become an equestrienne with Rupert Campbell-Black, strolled the gardens at Pemberley, run for my life through the halls of The Overlook hotel and the list could go on and on…
And then there’s the magazines, newspapers and social media that I enjoy and glean plenty of new information from. Then there are the blogs that I read, and write, the pen pals that send me happy mail and bring sunshine to my day. These are things that bring me enjoyment. I haven’t even started to think on the necessary – the bills I need to read and understand, letters from Boo’s preschool, signs as I’m out and about, all reading matter that I needed in my career and now in my business. What would I do if I couldn’t read and write? How would that make me feel in society today?
And what about my children? I’ve been surrounding them with books since they were just a few weeks old, and I don’t think a day’s gone by in their lives when they’ve not listened to a story or picked up a book themselves and flicked through. Just this last week, I’ve blogged here about their favourite books and our fabulous trip to the Julia Donaldson exhibition. These are everyday parts of our lives. Boo recites most of her books from memory (and she’s got a lot of books!). Little Man toddles over and grabs them for me and then points at them aggressively until I read them to him! They love their stories. They weave a world of imagination and magic around them, and all the time they’re getting lost in these faraway worlds, they are learning basic language and literacy skills that will set them up for life. A hugely enjoyable pastime, for all of us, that gives them a better start and a better chance in life.
I want every child to have this.