This weekend saw the launch of Ready to Read, a new report from the Read On. Get On. campaign coalition which brings together major literacy and communication charities, libraries, teaching unions and publishers. As part of the coalition the Reading Agency has worked on the report with other members including the Society of Chief Librarians (SCL) and the Association of Children and Education Librarians (ASCEL).
The new report, which focuses on early years language and communication, makes a robust case for prioritising investment in early years provision and building equal access to opportunities. By the age of five, poorer children are already lagging 15 months behind their peers. We all know that this has to change. The report identifies the investment needed to bring about that change.
There are two key calls to action in the report. Firstly, we are asking government and local services to invest further in nursery education so that by 2020 every nursery in England is led by a trained teacher or early years graduate, who can help all children to boost their early language skills before they leave nursery school. We are also asking them to take a detailed look at the way in which early health and education professionals can work together more effectively in their localities, to ensure that children’s needs are addressed and that greater priority is given to early language development.
The second call to action is aimed at all of us, because to succeed we need everyone who engages with children to work together to make the whole more than the sum of the many parts. Chapter three of the report explores the different factors that can influence a child’s language development, highlighting the critical role parents and carers play, while chapter four examines the potential for early education, health visitors, public libraries and children’s centres to support language development and help every child to read well.
To achieve the goals set out in this report and make reading accessible to all, it is crucial to make reading fun, something The Reading Agency and libraries’ shared programmes all aim to do. Reading should be something families can do together and something which very young children see their older siblings enjoying. The Summer Reading Challenge, which launched in libraries in Scotland on 25 June as the Tesco Bank Summer Reading Challenge Scotland, and which will launch in the rest of the country in July, has been designed to get and keep children reading by making it exciting, by offering a wide range of activities and incentives and by signposting them to the books that they might enjoy. Under-fives can take part in a specially designed mini challenge which runs alongside the main Challenge for four to eleven year-olds.
It’s also vital for children of all ages to have powerful role models to inspire them to read. This year the Record Breakers theme is designed to encourage all children to achieve their personal best and in many libraries they will be encouraged to do this by Summer Reading Challenge volunteers. The volunteering programme sees over 9,000 young people working in libraries each year and research has shown just how good they are at helping children to get involved in the Challenge and inspiring them to complete it.
Take a look at the full Ready to Read report Read On Get On.pdf