Adults who actively read for pleasure help students to develop key literacy skills.

lead by example 2Parents tend to complain that their children are not reading enough, especially those in secondary school. Pressures of General Certificate of Education (GCSE) and A-Level exams in the United Kingdom take over reading for pleasure and, if ever loved, it has been consigned to a prior life. Students who once loved reading, no longer have the time or interest, and students who struggled to read, have not opened a book for pleasure in as long as they can remember.

In 2015, a survey conducted by the OECD, about adult literacy skills shows that ‘1 in 6 of adults in England have literacy levels at or below Level 1, the equivalent to literacy levels at age 5 – 7’ according to the National Literacy Trust.

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How do we prevent our current cohort of students from becoming part of these statistics?

Encouraging students to read for pleasure begins with engaging adults to develop greater literacy skills. In the ‘Research evidence on reading for pleasure,’ the UK Department for Education cites Clark and Rumbold; ‘children are more likely to continue to be readers in homes where books and reading are valued.’ Therefore, creating a role model for children to follow includes not only teachers but parents.

During Covid-19, students have been home-schooled to greater or lesser extents and parents stretched thin between work, childcare and education. While finding the patience to balance life during the lockdown can be challenging, this can also be an opportunity for new paradigms to emerge with adults leading by example and developing a family time to read for pleasure.

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What can you do as a parent?

  • We live in a time where there is a wide range of high quality-books available for children to read. By searching online, you can find sites with recommended book lists that are suitable for children from preschool to teens.
  • Let your child decide what they would like to read. It could be a book, a magazine, a comic or graphic novel. The length of book does not matter, as long as your child enjoys it!
  • Read to your children even if they can read on their own, they are never too old to enjoy a good story together. From reading together, discussion or analysis can emerge and stimulate critical thinking.
  • Lead by example – read your own book in front of your child and let them see how much you enjoy it!

In these times of uncertainty, a book is an old friend that can be shared, argued about and treasured. Parents and teachers must lead by example with reading for pleasure to change the statistics and improve literacy levels in the United Kingdom and all around the world.